Ellie Carpenter Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Edit: Kimberlee Kessler

There are many moments that mould the athletes of today; they are made up of pride, disappointment, triumph, and heartache. GRAZIA speaks to the Australian Olympic team on the moments, the people and the discipline required to finally step onto the field. For young football mogul, Ellie Carpenter, it’s always about backing yourself to the end. Here she appears to celebrate the power of sport to build community and change the world.

GRAZIA: When did you realise you could take your sport to a professional level?

Ellie Carpenter: “I realised that I could potentially play football as my career when I was 14. I was already playing for Mini Matildas and then was called up for Young Matildas. I played for them at a tournament in China and I started to think then… why not? This could be something I can actually do!”

How did you feel when you qualified for the Games in 2021?

EC: “Relieved, then super excited. The game against China was intense and we were down a goal in that game right up until to the end of the match. It was pure relief and elation.”

When you step out to the field, the court, the starting line or the track, what is racing through your mind before you compete?

“What goes through my mind is to, ‘Back yourself’. Do the simple things well. Play good football and try not to focus on the result, but rather win one battle at a time. Never give up.”

In preparation for the Games, tell me three moments: Your proudest. Your most defining. Your lowest.

EC: “My proudest was representing Australia. Pulling on the green and gold and knowing there’s a whole country behind you means the world. The most defining was being recruited by Olympique Lyonnais and moving to France. My lowest was when we were knocked out of the World Cup. I didn’t want it to end then and there. There’s really no worse feeling than getting knocked out of the World Cup.”

What does a week of training look like for you?

EC: “I wake up early and have a healthy breakfast. Skill and fitness session in the morning. Gym and strength in the afternoon, or depending on when the game is, we will focus on tactics or video analysis. Every day I do recovery: ice baths, recovery boots, physio and/or massage. I also have to make sure I eat often and focus on my nutritional requirements too.”

On your hardest days, what drives you to keep going?

EC: “Being the best I can be. I’m always hungry to be better, to be ready for any opportunities that may present themselves. Plus, being able to travel and experience different cultures, people and food is pretty incredible.”

What has been your biggest challenge?

EC: “Being away from my family. I haven’t seen them for over a year now. It’s hard when you’re sick or something goes wrong and you don’t have your people there. I also miss my dog a lot.”

No matter the result, who will you be thanking?

EC: “My family and all the great coaches I have had along the way that have helped me develop into the player I am today. Also the fans and supporters. The ones that cheer for us whatever the result. They are the best.”

The TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC GAMES will run from July 21 to August 8. Explore more athlete stories here.