Honouring Amy’s legacy, and maximising opportunities of elite female athletes

It’s extremely challenging to suddenly change the course of your career due to circumstances out of your control. Yet female athletes who are forced to transition from elite sport may not be getting the support they need.

In December 2020, in partnership with Victoria University and via the generosity of a silent philanthropist, Ashleigh Marshall was awarded the third Amy Gillett Foundation Research Scholarship. Her PhD examines how national sporting organisations (NSOs) can maximise opportunities for elite female athletes who suddenly need to transition into a new career. 

Katie Brown, AGF’s Head of Philanthropy and Partnerships, knows first-hand the importance of such research.

“After breaking too many bones to count, spending 4 weeks in hospital, 6 months of home care and 13 surgeries, I did manage to get back on a bicycle to race. But everything had changed as I knew that I couldn’t be competitive again. “I would have loved to have better support and it’s fundamental that we help female athletes who are forced into change like I was.”

Katie Brown, Amy Gillett Foundation's Head of Philanthropy and Partnerships

Katie Brown was part of the Australian cycling team of six that was struck by a car in 2005, killing Amy Gillett.

“Cycling was all I knew. On top of the physical trauma, the mental trauma involved in finding my purpose took me years to come to grips with. It took another set of traumatic events for me to find purpose. After spending months looking after my children in intensive care, all of who were born prematurely due to my crash injuries, I ended up devoting my life to fundraising, firstly for the Sydney Children’s Hospital, and now with the Amy Gillett Foundation.”

Before the crash in 2005, Amy Gillett was about to undergo a PhD researching the support available to female athletes. There has been limited research into athletic retirement and career transition support for elite female athletes. Over the next eight months, Ashleigh Marshall will interview key stakeholders as part of her PhD research.

Amy Gillett representing Australia

“I am proud to have the support of the Amy Gillett Foundation and continue to honour Amy’s legacy. Insights from my interviews will explore how support can be provided for women forced into change by injury, deselection or situations like Katie Brown’s”, says Ashleigh.

Article by AGF Media

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