Melanie Wright may be a two-time Olympic gold medalist, but according to her father her career highlight is yet to come.
The retired freestyle champion and five-time Olympic medalist is currently completing Bond University’s medical program.
Wright’s academic pursuits have always meant much more to her than sporting glory and it is a message she strongly advocates.
“Academia was much more of a focus for me in school than the sport side,” Wright, who held multiple world records in a swimming career spanning a decade, told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“One thing my dad used to say constantly is that my best is beyond the swimming pool, that I would achieve better things outside the pool than I ever did inside the pool.
“That always kept me grounded and helped me realise that swimming was just a sport and something that I loved to do. It really made it about my own achievements and what I could do rather than externalising the expectation and chasing the gold and the glory and that sort of thing. I have never been about that.
“My family is very academically orientated so it was always a priority for me to do well at school and then go on to university. The swimming came later in the equation for me, I started when I was 14.”
Wright met with students from Keebra Park on Wednesday during a tour of Bond University to talk to them about her career and also promote the importance of education and pathways for aspiring athletes.
Wright, who has already finished a Bachelor of Science (University Queensland) and Master of Business Administration (Bond University), is looking forward to moving into the practical side of her medical degree.
If Wright has as much success in the medical profession as she did in the pool, then she’ll make a profound difference in the world and her father Paul Schlanger’s words will ring true.
“I’m very excited to see the real clinical side of medicine. It is what I’ve always wanted to be involved in, long before I wanted to be a swimmer,” she said.
“Next year we transition into full time placement, in the hospitals around the Gold Coast. That is going to be really exciting to be immersed in that.
“I’ve got two years of placement, primarily based at the Gold Coast University Hospital and Robina Hospital. That will take two years and then I’ll be qualified and after that who knows.
“Sport can be inspiring, especially for kids, and that is something I really love about sport, but as an athlete I wasn’t out there saving lives. I think there are many other professions in life that do leave a bigger imprint on the world and I think that is where the advice my dad gave me is grounded.”