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Food for thought to BESPIE's

Kaylin Van Gruenen and Harriet Brown
Bull Sharks netballer Kaylin Van Greunen with Harriet Brown 

There’s a four-letter word beginning with F that ranks among the most important puzzles for athletes to solve. 

Food, or fuel as many athletes refer to it, is one of the foundations of high performance.

A successful sporting career as well as mental and physical health can hinge on an athlete’s relationship with food. 

Bond University alumna and ironwoman legend Harriet Brown has delivered a workshop on nutrition to the Bond Elite Sports Program’s female athletes, the first of four presentations she will make over the coming weeks.

Brown is a World Ironwoman Champion, Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series Champion, Australian Team Member and captain and a winner of one of the most gruelling events in sport, the prestigious Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard race. 

Along with fellow Ironwoman Lizzie Wellborn, Brown has created the Kamana Community to support and celebrate female athletes and equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to overcome obstacles they may face on their sporting journey.

“Sport has always been very male dominated and there hasn’t been a lot of information or research that is specific to women,” she said.

“What we hope to achieve is to provide young female athletes with information that directly relates to them in an environment where they feel comfortable to talk and ask questions.”

In the workshops for Bond athletes Brown will explore topics such as Body Confidence, Female Athlete Health and Understanding the Menstrual Cycle, Nutrition for Athletes, and Performance Habits and Mindset. 

The nutrition workshop was delivered in the Hoog Antink Olympic Torch Room on Wednesday to an audience of swimmers, Ironwomen, rowers, AFL and rugby players and netballers.

BESP athletes at the KaMana workshop  

Brown drew on an experience from her own past when one coach had conducted skin fold tests and demanded she lose weight on her legs.

“That was a dangerous thing to say to a young athlete,” she said. 

She went on to explain that after noticing she ate more than h

er friends who weren’t athletes, she began to reduce her food intake and focus on salads in an attempt to lose weight. Her energy levels and consequently her training quality suffered.

Bond Director of Sport Mike Collins said the Kamana Workshops signalled the beginning of a new approach to enhancing the student-athlete experience at Bond University.    

“We have always aimed to provide our athletes with the best coaching and facilities and our focus now is in expanding what we can offer,” he said. 

“Women are carrying the torch for sport at Bond and it is exciting for us to be able to offer a series of workshops aimed at female athletes.

“We believe it gives them an incredible competitive edge to have a legend of Ironwoman racing like Harriet Brown provide information around nutrition and training, based not only on her university education, but also her experiences as an athlete.”

Collins also hoped the workshops could help build the sense of community within Bond Sport. 

“There are plenty of highs in sport but there can also be lows and they can be very lonely for athletes,” he said. 

“We hope that through these presentations our athletes can build support networks that last throughout their sporting careers and beyond.

“We hope we can build a village, starting today.”

For AFL player Sarah Heptinstall, who is studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences on a Sports Leadership Scholarship, the workshop was an invaluable experience.

“I loved that she was a graduated Bond student and athlete herself as it brought real-life experience about nutrition, sport, and studying,” she said.

“She was able to explain complex ideas simply.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it and looking forward to future workshops.”

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