Heidi Wright

Meet one of our aspiring Olympians!

My name is Heidi and I’m from Byron Bay- around Ballina area. I came to Sydney for university and was looking to keep up with judo as well. UNSW just happened to have the biggest judo club in Australia and I was like 'then I can study and play sport!' Judo is probably a really big part of my life. I study mechatronic engineering and science here- mainly engineering, let’s forget about the science!

She went from hating her sport to competing on the world stage 

I was a sporty kid but I didn't play a lot of organised sports growing up. Until I was about 15 I wanted to do gymnastics. I did that for about a week with my sister before my dad was like 'na, this is too expensive,' so then we got dragged into judo with my brother. I hated it to start with. I just didn’t want to be there and only went because I was forced to. It wasn’t until we started competing that it grew on me. When I started winning competitions I was like 'yeah you know what, I'm really competitive and now I'm enjoying this.' After that my coach really pushed us to compete a lot and I got really into it.  

There's always the Olympic dream, and I guess that's what I'm working towards.

I just got back from eight months overseas- I did an exchange in Canada and went well in a few competitions over there. I did an Olympic training camp in Austria in January and about a month's training in Germany, then came back to Australia and tore the ACL in my knee! I’m currently off injured but I’ll be back next year and working towards the Olympics. The dream is to be in the Australian team for Tokyo 2020.  

You’d be forgiven for thinking that such an elite athlete would have trouble fitting in her study commitments, but the opposite is actually true 

I work well under pressure. I get up, go to the gym in the morning, come home, get a few hours of study in, procrastinate for another hour or so then go back to study. I don’t give myself any other option but to finish my study and keep up with everything. I sometimes use judo as a bit of a motivator actually. If I have a class in the afternoon and I don't really want to go, but I have judo after, then I'll be like 'you know what, if I'm going to judo then I guess I can go via class.'  

When I got injured and couldn't go to training for a week, I didn’t know what to do with my time. I certainly didn't study! There was just a lot of Netflix and time-wasting. Usually I have like half an hour to get things done before I go to training, but then I had no training so I was like 'I've got all night, I'll do it eventually.' Then I just didn't do it. Being busy forces me to make good use of my time. 

Heidi’s time in sport has opened the doors to so many amazing people and experiences 

My whole social life is pretty much judo. They’re a pretty diverse group of people, which is great. There are plenty of alumni and people from every part of the university, which is good because usually in the faculty I'll only meet other engineering people, which is like 95% guys. But down at judo, everyone comes from different walks of life. Everyone is really highly motivated and just wants to have fun. It's good to meet people outside of what I'm studying.  

There's always a great tale to tell when I'm with the judo team. I was at competition in Belgium in January and well… we all love to eat so much. Because we're dieting all the time to make weight for judo, when we can eat, we eat big. So after weigh-in in Belgium we were like 'We need to get all the weight we dropped back on asap.' We went for Italian food and went a little bit too hard on the pizza and pasta. We all woke up the next day for competition with cold sweats- consider it a 'food hang over'. Meanwhile all these European athletes are good to go and us Aussie girls asking each other 'did you guys wake up feeling like you want to puke in the middle of the night?’ It was a laugh and lots of fun in the end, but certainly a life lesson on how not to prepare for a competition.  

Any final wise words from this amazing sportswoman? 

Sport is very much a journey and people have different journeys of how intense they want to take their sport. It's always a great way to meet people and you might find out that you love something that you haven't done before. I hated judo to start, but in the end, it was something that I learned to love and I wouldn't have known that unless I tried it. There's no loss in trying something, so just do it!