Kyle Vander-Kuyp: Helping Trainees Reach New Heights
Olympian Kyle Vander-Kuyp remains the fastest sprint hurdler in Australian history. Vander-Kuyp discovered his passion and natural talent for hurdles in primary school, before years later setting his sights on the Commonwealth Games trials during Year 12.
‘I made that team. I wore green and gold and really that was it – I was hooked. I wanted to wear the green and gold as much as I could after that,’ he said.
Vander-Kuyp’s career as a professional athlete went from strength to strength with the then 18 year old going head to head with some of the biggest names in the sport, including Colin Jackson and Tony Jarrett.
After being subjected to racially-motivated bullying during his early school years, Vander-Kuyp explained it was having positive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors and role models that was vital to his development and confidence that would one day lead him to the Olympic Games.
‘I think I was lucky from a young age because I looked up to a lot of athletes like Yvonne Goolagong and Lionel Rose,’ he said.
‘I think mainly because of their identity and their Aboriginality, I needed to see people successful with the same skin colour as me. I realised these guys are elite. I wanted to go back and prepare and that’s what I did with my coach all through the 90’s,’ he explained.
Kyle Vander-Kuyp’s perseverance and talent continued to shine, with the champion impressively competing in four Commonwealth Games teams and four World Championships, in addition to two Olympic Games.
The talented and technical hurdler enjoyed a long career, with his final Commonwealth Games appearance taking place in his mid-thirties – an achievement and level of success that many athletes could only dream of.
Vander-Kuyp recalled it was his extreme level of dedication during his athletic career, along with his appreciation for the advice, mentoring and support he received from his coach and family that has led him to his work with AFL SportsReady today.
‘All of those things relate to where I have come from in the last four or five years, being a mentor with AFL SportsReady and being able to help trainees. I think when other people believe in you and you then believe in yourself, it makes all the difference. My Mum believed in me, but so did lots of other people.'
‘What our young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guys and girls need is positive people, positive messages. And get them to dream. Get them to dream big. And don’t hold back,’ he said.
‘Don’t turn 30 or 40 and wonder what if, or I should of, or I could of. Make your dreams as big as possible and then get the people around you to get there.’
You can listen to Kyle’s interview on the Worthy Podcast.
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DATE: 7 December, 2015
AUTHOR: Alexia Boland
IMAGE: Kyle Vander-Kuyp