Alex Croak: an all round high achiever

30 March 2009

To anyone who has ever been competitive in sport, the idea of making an Olympic Games is more often a dream achieved by heroes than a realistic goal.

The thought then, of competing at multiple games for different sports, is almost unfathomable. However, it was achieved by Cumberland's very own Alexandra Croak, who represented Australia in diving at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This was her second time at this level, after competing in gymnastics at the Sydney 2000 Games.

A combination of injury and having achieved all her major goals saw Croak retire from gymnastics after the 2002 Commonwealth Games. After 18 months of time off, however, she found herself bored without a serious sport and hence began the new challenge of diving.

Despite a training regime of up to six hours a day, the fourth-year Occupational Therapy student has always maintained a full time study load. "The busier I am, the more I get done", she said. "I'm a very structured person, and I definitely make the most of my time".

Along with three other students, Croak is currently working on a project in Indigenous rural communities titled "Ilypa", meaning 'ears' in the Amplitawatja dialect. The project is targeted at research and raising awareness about Otitis Media, an ear condition that affects children from the age of 6 weeks. Otitis Media is often caused by poor living conditions and without early treatment; it can lead to permanent hearing impairment.

The students have been collaborating with Rotary Australia in order to fundraise, and heighten awareness of Otitis Media. While it originally began as a project for a uni subject, their interest and passion has seen the students pursue their cause outside of semester, while continuing to receive credit towards their studies.

Croak explains that poor living standards, like no running water or poor hygiene, in which a lot of rural Indigenous communities live, makes the problem extremely hard to solve.

"It's also hard because there are so many other health issues; it's not really a government priority. So we're really trying to raise awareness as well as work on prevention"

Although she will not be taking any time off her studies, Croak is still extremely motivated with her diving, and is ultimately aiming for London 2012.

This year will see her compete in the World Championships in Rome in July, after coming second in the recent National Championships in both the 10 metre and 1 metre events. Before that however, Croak will travel to events in Mexico, Canada, the US, Serbia and Spain for different tournaments, all in the lead up to Worlds.

Although the challenge of juggling training, competing and studying is tough, Croak says she wouldn't change a thing.

"I just love training, it's my life".

She is also considering taking on the Master of Physiotherapy at the conclusion of her undergraduate studies.

Alex Croak competing in diving at the elite level
Alex Croak competing in diving at the elite level