Olympian offers insights

22:53, Mar 21 2013
Southland Times photo
Pictured, from left, delegate Christian Borkowski, five-times Australian Olympic gold medallist Natalie Cook and Proactive Accountants Network chief executive and founder Rob Nixon.

Five times Olympic beach volleyball champion Natalie Cook will apply the principles of 20 years of success in sport to the lives of almost 200 Australian and New Zealand accountants in Queenstown today.

She is appearing as a guest speaker at the Proactive Accountants Network's annual conference at the new Memorial Centre in Queenstown this week.

Cook was the youngest beach volleyballer in the world to compete at an Olympics, when 21. Now 38, she retired last year after the London Olympics. Winning gold in her home town, Sydney, at the 2000 Olympics was a huge career highlight.

The Australian hit the media headlines and ruffled a few feathers last year when she declared publicly that it was time Australia had a female flag-bearer and she would like to be it.

"I had been to four Olympics before and walked behind four men. It caused quite a stir.

"The Australian Olympic Committee was forced to pick a female. I didn't get to carry it but Australian basketball captain Lauren Jackson, a high profile Olympian, did."


In 1980 sprinter Denise Robertson Boyd "co-carried" the Aussie flag with a male athlete, but no females had before.

Cook has now turned her love of all things sand into a successful business, Sandstorm. When she is not travelling as a motivational speaker she works with town planners designing beach courts for everything from volleyball and netball to soccer and footie.

"Putting the sandpit on the map is my passion and my legacy. Speaking is my passion and my livelihood."

"The single question people asked me the most was ‘how did you stay motivated in your sport for 20 years?'. So I went through and unpacked what's inside of me and what I do naturally in my subconscious and worked out how that can benefit people and translate across to business."

She will speak about maintaining clarity of focus, precision, a "laser-like focus" to go after goals.

Perseverance is another key. Once you get knocked down how to get back up, she said.

The Mirror