Australian Swimmer to Lead New Committee for Athlete Well-Being

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. spearhead / ˈspiɚˌhɛd / (v) – to take the lead in an activity

    I was assigned to spearhead the upcoming company party.

  2. be ideally placed / bi aɪˈdɪə.li pleɪsd / (idiom) – to be suitable or fit for something

    The actor is ideally placed to promote the animal welfare campaign because he is an animal lover.

  3. vocal / ˈvoʊ·kəl / (adj) – expressive or outspoken

    We need to be vocal about our opinions.

  4. practitioner / prækˈtɪʃ·ə·nər / (n) – one who practices a profession

    He is one of the well-known practitioners of martial arts.

  5. bring about / brɪŋ əˈbɑʊt / (phrasal) – to produce a certain effect

    The advocacy aims to bring about change in people’s attitude toward mental health.


Read the text below.

Australian Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe will spearhead an initiative for the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to support athletes’ mental health.

The five-time Olympic gold medalist, who became the youngest male to represent Australia at age 14, is ideally placed to support the AIS as he has been very vocal about his battle with mental health problems like depression. Because of his experiences, Thorpe is dedicated to helping other athletes who are undergoing mental health crises.

To express his support, Thorpe agreed to become the first member of the newly established AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement committee.

The new committee, which involves other mental health experts, will specifically focus on certain areas concerning the well-being of athletes. Among these areas are professional development, participation in community initiatives, and skills that will help athletes cope with a high-pressure environment. The committee also plans to bring together practitioners and different athletes across the country to develop a national action plan for athlete welfare. 

Through the initiatives of the committee, Thorpe hopes to bring about positive change in the athletes’ mental health and performance.

Thorpe expressed his call for change in his speech at the AIS summit on athlete well-being last June. One of his proposals to boost athletes’ mental health is to urge sports organizations to stop setting medal targets. According to Thorpe, setting gold medals as the primary goal for athletes will only be stressful for them. Instead of motivating them to do well, having medal targets will only negatively affect their performance.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with Ian Thorpe’s proposal to stop setting medal targets for athletes? Why or why not?
• Why do you think sports organizations continue to set medal targets for athletes?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, is there a need to launch an organization for athlete well-being in your country? Why or why not?
• In what other ways do you think sports organizations can support the well-being of athletes?