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Australian Olympian Madii Himbury
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5 Minutes With Madii Himbury

12 March 2018
We catch up with one of our local Olympians
First-time Winter Olympian and Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sports Science) student Madii Himbury chats with us about her first Olympics and how studying at university helped her along the way.
Madii Himbury competing

 

Madii, says her love for health and sport has led her to pursue a dual career as a professional athlete and allied health practitioner. Now in her final year of studies at the University of Sydney, we spent 5 minutes catching up with her on her experience at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and the path she took to get there.

1. How did you get into freestyle mogul skiing?

I was originally a competitive gymnast and through competing in the Interschool's competitions, I realised I loved moguls. I quit gymnastics and I begged my parents to let me join Perisher Winter Sports Club in 2008 and haven't looked back since!

2. What did your path to the Olympics look like?

I battled with two ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstructions when I was 16 and 18 where I considered quitting the sport. I stuck out the long years of rehabilitation and made it back as a better and stronger athlete. After qualifying for my first World Cup tour in 2016/2017, I was setting myself up for a good chance at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Competing not only against the entire world but to be in the top four Australians put a lot of pressure this international season. My best result of tenth at Calgary World Cup in February 2017 qualified me to be a part of the Australian Olympic team!

3. How did you feel when you found out you had been chosen to represent Australia?

To represent Australia at an Olympics has been a goal of mine since I was little (originally Summer Olympics). When the official letter came in, I was not only super excited to go to my first games but also relieved that all my years of training and hard work had paid off. I was quick to send the exciting news to all my family and friends back home that have supported me over the many years.

4. What was the last piece of advice your coach said to you before you competed?

My coach's advice was to "stay relaxed and let the motions happen, as your body is trained and ready for this". He then told me to "go after it". I recite to him my key focus points for the run; we fist bump, he says "now go execute" and I push out of the gate.

Madii Himbury smiling

5. What goes through your mind while you're racing?

When you're competing you do not want to be over-analysing movements but letting the run flow down the hill, hiding mistakes as best you can. There are certain words that trigger movement patterns that I remind myself throughout the run such as "tall", "snap", "stand up", "left arm". For the most part, it's going after it and telling yourself to be aggressive the entire way down the slope.

6. What was your goal when you chose to study the Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sports Science) for your Undergraduate Degree?

I have always been interested in health and sport and decided that Exercise and Sports Science was the perfect degree to do while I was still training full time. I have studied this part time over four years and am planning to finish up my studies this year. After I retire from skiing, I am looking at furthering my studies with a degree in paramedicine.

7. Has your undergraduate degree at the University helped you with your professional career towards becoming an Olympic athlete?

My Sports Science degree directly correlates to my training as an Olympic athlete. From my studies, I can understand all the different components required to become an elite athlete. The degree has also developed my knowledge of the science and research of sport, enabling me to make informed choices related to my training and lifestyle. Sydney University has been a great support in the flexibility of my studies allowing me to be confident in transitioning from full-time skiing to a professional job when I retire.

8. Did you get to meet your fellow University students (James Matherson and Holly Crawford) who also competed in PyeongChang while you were over there?

James Matheson is also a freestyle mogul skier and we have been teammates and friends since 2008. It was a great experience to share our first Winter Olympics together. I did get to meet Holly Crawford for the first time in Pyeongchang. She is an exceptional athlete, inspiring me to continue my competitive training as she is a four-time Olympian.

9. What was the most rewarding part of the Olympic experience?

The most satisfying moment was making a clean, neat, first mogul run down the Pyeongchang course. Standing at the top hearing the crowd scream your name, nerves running crazy, TV cameras everywhere, the pressure was on. I made it across the line, happy with my run and it was at that point I could call myself an Olympian!!

10. Was there a specific moment from the PyeongChang Olympics that you will never forget?

As we could not march in the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony was definitely an Olympic highlight. To be dressed in the Australian team outfit, walking alongside exceptional athletes worldwide, was an amazing feeling. I felt proud to be part of an awesome Australian team and be able to celebrate a great Olympic games, which will remain an unforgettable experience throughout my lifetime.

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