As Bianca Crisp aims for a place on the Paris 2024 swim team, the AIS Share a Yarn initiative continues to provide her with essential connections.
For Bianca Crisp, a Wiradjuri woman and open-water swimmer, having a supportive environment to engage with her culture, heritage, and community is vital for her success, both in her athletic pursuits and personal life.
Inspired by her great grandmother, who was part of the Stolen Generation, Crisp sought a safe space to explore her Indigenous identity and joined the Australian Institute of Sport's (AIS) Share a Yarn program.
“I've never had a safe space with other Indigenous athletes who are experiencing similar things to me, so to have that connection to others in Share Yarn is really special,” Crisp said.
The AIS Share a Yarn First Nations Cultural Connection initiative aids young Indigenous athletes, like Crisp, by offering mentorship and fostering connections within their sporting journeys.
As part of the 2023 Share a Yarn cohort, Crisp participated in a cultural camp at the AIS in Canberra, uniting ten Indigenous athletes from various sports to engage with each other, mentors, and the Ngunnawal country.
“It was such an amazing experience to be in a high-performance environment and to have that cultural aspect. To connect with other indigenous athletes and mentors was really special,” Crisp said.
Paired with decorated para-swimmer Ben Austin OAM, Crisp found immense value in the mentorship experience.
“Ben’s unique take on things has really benefited me. He has passed down his knowledge and experience as a First Nations athlete in a high performance and high-pressure environment that I can take away to help my performance,” Crisp said.
In return, Austin emphasized the importance of a supportive community for mentees: “I really hope the mentees feel comfortable to reach out at any stage of their career and know they're not alone, they can have a yarn with us any time and draw upon the experiences that we've learnt surviving the high-performance system.”
While eyeing the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, Crisp aims to blend her passion for swimming with a career in medicine to empower First Nations communities.
As an advocate for Indigenous students at Griffith University's GUMURRII Student Success Unit, Crisp aspires to eventually return as a mentor in the Share a Yarn program.
"I think being able to come back and inspire others would be an honour and something really special that I'm striving towards.
“If I can just inspire one other person, then that makes all the difference.” Read the full article here.
Photo Courtesy ASC