Kyah Simon 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. Like many, Kyah Simon knows the struggles of the past five years all too well. 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? How old were you?

Kyah Simon: “I was eight years old when I first decided I wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming a professional footballer. I loved sports as a kid growing up and was inspired by Cathy Freeman and the 2000 Olympics. I went home and said to Mum and Dad, ‘One day I want to play for Australia’.”

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

KS: “Pure elation and excitement. Knowing that we had qualified for my second Olympic Games was an incredible feeling. Being on home soil and in front of our fans for parts of the qualification process was a memorable experience.”

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

“Focus on the task at hand, confidence in my preparation to get me to that point, positive self-talk and a mentality to win.”

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

KS: “[The] proudest would have to be the moment I was told I was selected in the squad for the Olympics. Most defining and lowest was the six months leading up to this point. I was experiencing some very dark moments mentally. At times I had real feelings of loneliness and isolation as I rehabbed from my surgery in March. Being so far away from family, I had to really find strength within myself to pull myself back up and stay positive and motivated to get back into the shape I knew I had to. It was by far the toughest six months I’ve ever gone through. Knowing now I got through that gives me a sense of confidence that no matter what I face in the future, I know I have the willingness and strength to get through anything on my own.”

What does a week of training look like for you?

KS: “Typically in club land it would be Monday: field and gym; Tuesday, field; Wednesday, field and gym; Thursday is an “off day” with yoga or recovery; Friday field; Saturday game and Sunday is another “off” day with recovery or yoga.”

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

KS: “Knowing the work I put in at training gives me confidence leading into games, allowing me to be able to perform better, feeling fitter, sharper, and more on my game come game day. Trying to better myself every day and get the best I can out of every session is enough motivation for me. I live by the feeling of never being satisfied.”

What has been your biggest challenge?

KS: “Major injuries, doubt, negative thoughts and comments. I think being a professional athlete is all about ups and downs. You’d be lying to yourself if you said you were in a positive mind frame the whole time but I try and refocus when I need to. Setting new goals helps me refocus.”

No matter the result, who will you be thanking?

KS: “My family. They have been my rock, and my closest friends (they know who they are).”

The TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC GAMES will run from July 21 to August 8. EXPLORE MORE ATHLETE STORIES HERE.