Students in BSSC’s Specialist Sports Program were inspired to overcome adversity this morning with a visit from two amazing young Olympians.

Swimmer Koti Ngawati and table tennis wizz Milly Tapper gave our aspiring athletes a first-hand account of what it takes to succeed at the top level, especially when the inevitable mountains appear that need to be conqueured.

For Koti it began with the death of her mother, but then included a serious back injury, her father’s battle with prostate cancer, and more recently a heart scare that has forced her out of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“When these things happen, you simply have to put your health first,” Koti said. “You have to find ways to work around injuries and other setbacks and have a plan outside of sport.”

Koti is currently studying Commerce part-time through Deakin University.

Milly Tupper sustained serious nerve damage in her right arm at birth and, as a result, has learnt to persist and problem solve every day of her life to achieve even the simplest daily tasks. She has competed at two Paralympics, and in Rio was the first Australian athlete to compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year.

Milly talked about the importance of finding the right balance between elite sport and the other parts of life as a recipe for success. She also explained how the one-percenters turned her fortunes around after the disappointment of the London games.

“I saw a nutritionalist and changed my diet… work on my strength and conditioning… began seeing a sports psychologist,” she said. “It’s about turning negative thoughts into positive ones… finding something great to take away from every training session.”

Both Koti and Milly explained their pathway to the Victorian Institute of Sport, but encouraged students to give their Year 12 studies priority.

“It’s important to challenge your brain outside of your sport,” Milly said. “It’s such a small part of your life in the scheme of things… you have to remind yourself of the big picture… balance is the key.”