Olympic champion Duncan Armstrong helping turn gold dust into gold medals with Australia’s National MLC Flippers

Elwanda Tulloch

 Olympic champion Duncan Armstrong helping turn gold dust into gold medals with Australia’s National MLC Flippers Program Olympic champion Duncan Armstrong OAM was front and centre when Swimming Australia, in partnership with MLC, announced its 38-strong next generation 2020 Flippers National Squad on the Gold Coast today. The 1988 gold […]

 Olympic champion Duncan Armstrong helping turn gold dust into gold medals with Australia’s National MLC Flippers Program

Olympic champion Duncan Armstrong OAM was front and centre when Swimming Australia, in partnership with MLC, announced its 38-strong next generation 2020 Flippers National Squad on the Gold Coast today.

The 1988 gold medallist from Seoul in the 200m freestyle, co-hosted the launch with dual Beijing and London Olympian Meagen Nay, which was attended by 11 of the 18 Queenslanders in the squad.

The remaining 27 Squad members tuned into a live stream via zoom from each of the States around the country in what has become a virtual year in so many ways.

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FLIPPERS IN THE FAST LANE: Lucinda Macleod (left), Thomas Hauck and Georgia Powell.  Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

The local squad members were put through their paces by National Youth coach, 1984 Olympic bronze medallist Glenn Beringen,  in an impromptu training session at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, for some it will be their finishing touches before the three-day Queensland State Short Course Championships starting at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre tomorrow.

But the 38 Flippers, with their sights on one day becoming Australian Dolphins, will all come together, COVID-19 permitting for the National Flipper Camp between January 3 and 9.

The stars of the future hung on every word from the gold medal champion, Duncan Armstrong, who under legendary coach Laurie Lawrence produced one of Australia’s most memorable Olympic victories.

And what can these youngsters expect?

“Sporting potential of this kind is often described as ‘gold dust’ – rare, valuable and requiring skilful handling along the journey to transfer into World and Olympic excellence,” were Duncan Armstrong’s words of wisdom.

And Armstrong has had plenty of experience at the top of the sport with his gold and silver medals in ’88 and his Commonwealth Games gold in 1986 – a young lad, born in Townsville and who made the big time with grit determination and hard work.

And what are Duncan Armstrong’s gold medal tips for the next wave of champions, when they turn up for their National Camp to kick start 2021.

“It’s all about showing up, for the work and for the learning and just being brave when you do get into these programs and camps when you are shoulder to shoulder with people you race against, your peers” said Duncan Armstrong.

“Times when you don’t know people surrounding you, so many times you are in your own lane ropes in your training venue and sometimes when you go into a National Camp it can be really intimidating but you’ve got to put that aside and be brave..be courageous.

“You are going to be surrounded by people who are better than you, so you’ve got to use that terrible word vulnerability.

“It’s one of those things that never changes and even back in the day, they were intimidating environments.

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GOLDEN PARTNERSHIP: Duncan Armstrong and Laurie Lawrence Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media

“You would arrive at a National Camp with Laurie and there would be Bill Sweetenham who would show up with the AIS team and then you had legendary Queensland coach Joe King and these hard core coaches like Brett Sutton and everyone would tee off and say look what my kids can do and boom they’d just drop these sessions on you.

“It was really a frightening place and it was those sort of pathways back in the day that got me ready for the Olympics and elite competition.

“I would learn so much….the development programs will always expose you to people who have been there and done that.

“I listened to some of the greats like Olympic 1500m champion on the track Herb Elliott and Test cricket captain Steve Waugh…they spoke about the cauldron and they spoke about their impressions of managing injuries and how to overcome challenges and because they told me about it and they went on to win I felt I could too.

“I had the same injuries as Herb, the same injuries as Steve Holland and Michael Wenden and because they told me how they got over it, I was prepared to give that a go when I was in the challenge and that’s what you are going to get exposed to in these sort of MLC Squads.

“What MLC brought to the table today was the opportunity to connect and we need to keep connecting because we don’t know when this COVID-19 thing will end or what the new normal looks like.”

“It was through my mum Kate that we heard about Duncan and his coach Laurie Lawrence….my family and especially mum have always been massive followers of sport and swimming especially.

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MUM’S THE WORD: Thomas Hauck, pictured here with Lucinda Macleod, learnt about Laurie Lawrence and Duncan Armstrong from his sport mad mother. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

“I learnt about Laurie Lawrence very early on and that’s obviously a classic Laurie moment (in 1988) but it’s still Duncan’s achievement and Australia’s achievement – it’s a classic Olympic moment…its exciting to have people like Duncan here and it shows the support and the passion they (will always) have for swimming.”

Swimming Australia General Manager Performance Pathway, British Olympian, Jamie Salter said the athletes and coaches selected were crucial to the future of swimming in Australia.“The MLC National Flippers program is extremely important to our pathway system as it provides a great foundation to develop and nurture both swimmers and coaches,” he said.

“Our aim is to have these athletes transition to a senior Dolphins team in the years to come and have selected a talented group of young swimmers who we believe have what it takes to succeed towards Paris (2024) and beyond. “We are thrilled to be delivering this program in partnership with MLC whose purpose is to create future confidence for Australians – very much what we are wanting to achieve in this program with our next wave of swimming talent in Australia.”

MLC Chief Communications, Digital and Marketing Officer, Kylie Smith, said: “We are proud to support the development of our nation’s young swimmers and potential future champions.

“We congratulate all the talented athletes selected in the MLC National Flippers Squad and applaud their determination and commitment,” she said.

The athletes and coaches for the MLC National Flippers Camp were chosen by State Technical Directors and Swimming Australia’s Performance Pathway team after a rigorous assessment of their international performance against key high performance.

Subjectivity is also taken into consideration based on their potential to successfully represent Australia at major international meets in the coming years.

Flippers Squad members will also be given valuable information regarding technical, tactical, physical, psychological and wellbeing skills to assist in their development via a series of webinars delivered throughout the year by Swimming Australia’s technical leads and high performance staff.

The Flippers Program has a history of success, having had 32 athletes successfully make the transition to the Australia Dolphins Swim team since 2014, including Ariarne Titmus, Jack Cartwright, Zac Stubblety-Cook, Bradley Woodward, Jess Hansen, Kaylee McKeown and Elijah Winnington.

SWIMMING AUSTRALIA PATHWAY – NATIONAL FLIPPERS PROGRAM

MLC National Flippers Squad

ACT (1) Jacinta Essam

NSW (5) Charli Brown, Charlie Hawke, Sydney Brown, Abbey Webb, Angus McDonald

QLD (18) Bailey Day, Tiana Kritzinger, Lucinda Macleod, Georgia Pendergast, Jamie Perkins, Csongor Cellie, Charles Cox, Thomas Hauck, Thomas Raymond, Samuel Short, Tahlia Thornton, Ella Goddard, Ella Ramsay, Jade Starr, Rebecca Jacobson, Georgia Powell, Lucas Humeniuk, Kyle Niesler

SA (1) Emilie Muir

TAS (2) Matilda Smith, Maximillian Giuliani

VIC (8) Sophie Caldwell, Layla Day, Tara Kinder, Olivia Lefoe, Gabriella Peiniger, Silas Harris, Maggie Skewes, Elliot Rogerson

WA (3) Kate Harrison, Kieren Pollar, Adam Sudlow

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KICKING ON: Queensland members  of the 2020 MLC National Flippers Squad, pooling their talent at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

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IN GOLDEN HANDS: The 2020 MLC National Flippers with 1988 Olympic golden boy Duncan Armstrong. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

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ARMED AND DANGEROUS: Australia’s MLC Flippers eyeing off the future. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

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GOLD COAST AT ITS BEST: The Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, scene of today’s MLC Flippers Launch, welcomed Australia’s best young swimmers.  Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

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