“Sharing a lift with Ash Barty and Jessica Fox has to be a highlight”: Coffs Harbour SES volunteer returns home after Olympics

Dr Deidre Anderson.


COFFS Harbour SES volunteer and elite athlete expert Dr Deidre Anderson will return home this week after a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Tokyo Olympics.

Amongst other endeavours, Deidre works as a Performance and Wellbeing Consultant for Elite Athletes and Business Executives, supporting the Australian Olympic Softball Team.

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The group flew over to Tokyo at the start of June and played nearly 30 games with professional teams to prepare themselves for the Olympics, after no competition for 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deidre said highlights included seeing the players’ faces when they arrived, watching them march around the village in their Olympic uniforms, and being in a lift with Ash Barty and Jessica Fox.

“Working with the team (“Aussie Spirit”) has been incredible,” she said.

“There were some players who were due to retire when the original Tokyo games were scheduled, but have gone on for another year holding their bodies together just to compete at their first Olympics.”

She said the Tokyo Games were especially challenging.

“The pandemic took away many opportunities for the athletes to do things like attending the opening and closing ceremonies, experiencing the beautiful culture of Tokyo, spending time with other athletes, for their parents and friends to join them on their journey to Tokyo, and to have spectators in the stadiums,” Deidre said.

“Despite this, the Olympic spirit still managed to infiltrate and influence the experience in a positive and fulfilling way.”

Deidre has worked with elite athletes for over 25 years, including at the Sydney Olympics.

She became involved in softball in the Air Force in the interservice team, then when working at the Victorian Institute of Sport.

She joined NSW SES in August 2020, having lived in Coffs Harbour for two years and wanting to engage more with the local community.

“I am physically active and always up for a challenge, so the SES came to mind,” Deidre said.

“I had seen the amazing work that was done after the floods in Coffs, and felt that there was a great value alignment between myself and the ideals of the SES.

“In the past 12 months I have completed training in rooftop safety, working at heights, chainsaw crosscut and felling, obtained my rigid licence, first aid, traffic boat operators, land search, and public defibrillation.

“I was part of the evacuation team when Sawtell was threatened by rising water, assisting in the most recent North Coast floods, and have attended many roof repairs and chainsaw jobs.

“I am looking forward to getting piaro and road crash rescue courses completed.

“Coffs Unit has a great team and there is always something going on in our community, it’s great to feel as though you can assist in a small way to keep our community safe.”

She felt there was a distinct link between the Olympics and being in the NSW SES.

“There is a common goal to do and be your best, to uphold a standard and ethics that are much greater than the individual, and the necessity for teams in helping achieve greater things,” Deidre said.

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