Meet Bronte and Cate Campbell, the young local Olympic gold medalists, and Commonwealth Games hopefuls, who had their eyes set on the Olympics before the age of 10. These sisters, with the support of some uber- dedicated parents, show how

Sacrifice leads to success
Like most kids, Bronte and Cate Campbell had big dreams. Their talent, dedication and years of training saw them become gold medalists while they were still teenagers. In the lead up to their appearance in the Commonwealth Games this month, haven sat down with the sisters to hear about their journey to Olympic success and the significant role (and sacrifice) their dedicated parents made for the girls to live their aspirations…

The sisters were originally taught to swim by their mum at a young age in Malawi, South Africa, before moving to Australia at ages 7 and 9 in 2001. After arriving in Brisbane, they began swimming at a local club where they met the coach who has worked with them for the past 17 years. Swimming has played a big role in their lives for as long as they can remember, with Cate reflecting on their shared love of swimming from a very young age.

“I was one of those kids that really liked swimming a lot. My parents would ground me by telling me I couldn’t go swimming. That was my punishment,” Cate says.

As they continued to spend every second they could in the pool, it was Bronte’s love for swimming that quickly turned into a dream to be an Olympic athlete.

“I think I just really loved swimming and I was good at it and I remember watching the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and I just wanted to be a swimmer,” Bronte says. “I just decided that going to the Olympics was what I was going to do with my life. At seven years old, it seemed like anything was possible and I’m just fortunate it came to fruition.”

Refusing to be beaten by her younger sister, Cate quickly followed in Bronte’s footsteps. She says it was around the age of 12 that she really fell in love with the idea of one day being an Olympian as well.

“I think that it kind of came about because Bronte wanted to be in the Olympics and we used to train really hard and she would beat me and I didn’t like being beaten by my younger sister,” Cate laughs. “ I decided to beat her I had to make that my dream as well.”

Their sibling rivalry saw the girls face long hours of rigorous training. Both recall doing around eight or nine training sessions a week on top of their academic commitment during their high school years.

No success without sacrifice
With their aspirations of Olympic success came great sacrifices – especially during the teenage years. While their friends were at parties, hanging out at the local shopping centre or just being ‘young and dumb’, the Campbells were in the pool training as hard as they could.

“There were definitely sacrifices. I sacrificed a normal teenage experience,” Bronte admits. “It’s not normal to spend that much time in the swimming pool. I did not have much time to spend time with friends after school or go to parties.”

Olympic success is a family affair
While they put in the hard yards from a young age, both Bronte and Cate said their success wouldn’t have been possible without the sacrifices made by their parents. Two of five siblings, all the Campbell kids learned to swim with thanks to their mum, who was once a synchronised swimmer.

“Our parents definitely made sacrifices – sleep being the big one,” Cate says. “We trained from 5am to 7am and poor mum was on the driving duties. The day I got my licence was the happiest day of her life!”

“Dad would take us to swimming carnivals at the weekends and spend the whole day sitting by the pool just to watch us swim two races,” Bronte says. Beyond the sleep depravation, both Bronte and Cate acknowledged that money, the constant need for physiotherapy and not having a family holiday as other sacrifices made by their parents.

“We haven’t been on a family holiday since we were 11 or 12 because we are always training,” Bronte says. “The most amount of time I have had off in the past 17 years was six weeks after the Olympics, which was a real treat.”

While their parents poured both time and money into helping their daughters achieve Olympic success, they also stood by them offering the support any teenager needs as they are chasing their dreams.

“No one ever said ‘no’ to me,” Bronte says. “My parents would listen to me and talk to me about the Olympics. It was really powerful having nobody tell me I couldn’t do it.

“Mum was adamant that study was always something I should do but that I could come back to it. The sport was something for right now and I may not get another shot at it, which was a nice way to look at it.”

The hard work was worth it
While the training and the sacrifices might sound like negatives, neither Bronte nor Cate would have it any other way.

“I didn’t regret it. I could see my friends were out having a good time, but I was always incredibly focused and knew where I wanted to go,” Cate says. “I got to experience things that my classmates never got to do and probably never will.”

Their passion for sport is strong and while it is a lot of work, they say kids should definitely follow their dreams to become athletes if they are willing to dedicate the time and really love it. As for their own careers, the girls both acknowledge they cannot swim competitively forever and are looking to swim through to 2020 before finishing their respective degrees in business and communications to find associated work in the world of sport.

Their inspirational story rings true for so many families – if you want to be the best at something you definitely have to make sacrifices.

“I once looked up the definition of sacrifice in the dictionary,” Cate recalls. “It is the surrendering
of something of value in the hopes of attaining something greater. I thought it was a really good way of summarising a sacrifice. If I’m not giving up something I care about, how am I going to achieve something great? The pursuit of excellence in anything requires you to make a sacrifice.”

Brilliant Bronte
* Bronte achieved an OP 2 in high school
* Bronte won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics
* Bronte was the third swimmer in history to take the 50m and 100m freestyle double at a World Championship when she won in 2015

Captivating Cate
* Cate achieved an OP 5 in high school
* Cate holds one world record and two national records
* Cate will attend her fourth Olympic Games in 2020, which only one other Australian swimmer has done ever before



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