Olympian Alyce Burnett doesn’t sweat the small stuff

STEPS Charity ambassador and Australian Olympic kayaker Alyce Burnett sat down with us to chat about her work with STEPS Charity, her sporting career and learning to not take life too seriously.

What inspired you to become an ambassador for STEPS Charity?

One of my family members lives with a disability, so I know firsthand how hard it can be. For years I have seen STEPS do amazing things in this area, and last year I decided that it was about time I lent a hand. Since teaming up with STEPS my eyes have been opened to the amazing things a community can achieve together and I couldn’t be prouder to an ambassador for such an amazing cause. The way they have broken down the barriers for people living with a disability is truly inspirational. Every single person should be equal and be provided with the same opportunities. I think STEPS Pathways College epitomises just this.

What do you love about STEPS Charity events?

Every event STEPS Charity organises is always a success and moves them closer to their fundraising target, but it’s also about helping to raise awareness for such an amazing cause. Every little bit counts!

Tell us a bit about the story you shared at the Living Legends Long Lunch?

I think the biggest point I wanted to get across was that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Coming into the Olympic trials last year my K2 partner and I were the total underdogs and on paper probably shouldn’t have qualified for the team. But that didn’t matter to us. After proving a lot of people wrong, we booked our spots but went into the Olympic Games facing the same problem. No one thought we could make the final, so we proved them wrong. I think this is the story for a lot of people, especially those living with a disability, so I want to show people that it doesn’t matter what others think about you, as long as you have belief in yourself you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in your competitive career?

I’ve had a few injury setbacks like any athlete, but I think the biggest thing I’ve overcome is learning to not take it all too seriously. It sounds weird, but it has been the cornerstone to my success in the couple of years. I used to overthink absolutely everything, every training session, every stroke, every breath. I went a bit crazy with it all. Doing this made me dread going to training and worry constantly which certainly doesn’t help performance.

How did you overcome it?

When I teamed up with Alyssa in the K2 at the start of 2015 I think I finally realised that I needed to have a bit more fun. Her and I are so similar and have now become best of friends. We both absolutely love kayaking, love going fast and love being able to hang out with each other all day, every day. I now have the ability to switch on and off when I need. When we are on the water or in the gym I make sure I am completely focussed, but as soon as we finish the session it’s almost as if we aren’t kayakers. We like to think of ourselves as comedians, but I don’t think anyone else thinks that. Since taking on this mentality my results have improved tenfold, and if anything goes wrong with my preparations or races I don’t beat myself up about it, I am now able to learn from it and move on.

What advice do you have for anyone aspiring to achieve great things?
If you love it and want to do well at it, nothing is stopping you. I love the saying “someday someone may make a movie of your life, make sure it doesn’t go straight to DVD”. It’s very cliché, but so relevant.

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