With over a decade at the top of beach volleyball, Olympic gold and bronze medallist Kerri Pottharst has learned a lot of lessons she is happy to share with us all
Kerri Pottharst

25 Jun 2016 - 12:00 PM  UPDATED 25 Jun 2016 - 12:00 PM

Everyone remembers you winning the gold, but no one sees the 18 years prior to that. There were highs and there were lows, there were times I didn’t believe in myself but I always, always pushed through. I just had it in me.

I wanted to see how good I could be. I wanted to be the best. Initially it was being the best in my club team, then it was being the best in my state team, the national team. 18 years down the track it was being the best in the Olympics.

Nat Cook and I had a lot of ups and downs. There were moments where we really struggled. We were two very different people with different personalities. Brought together by a shared goal, a vision and determination…. that’s a force to be reckoned with. Now, we’re closer than sisters after everything we’ve been through.

The bronze was the beginning of our journey to gold. Winning bronze and knowing that next Olympics was going to be in Sydney was the first indicator of ‘we’ve got a chance at this’. We had lost 16 out of 17 matches to the same pair in the lead up to that game and they had much more experience than we did.

We needed something different, so we got all the right people involved in our preparation and for us it was the mental strength, belief and mindset that got us over the line.

We planned absolutely everything for that day. It’s not just the lead up and during the match that we’d planned for. We had planned after the game too; who we were going to talk to, what we were going to say to the crowd. You can’t just cross your fingers and hope it works out on the day you need to plan every detail.

I was always going after the next big thing, and it took me five years after retirement to finally learn to be grateful for what I had achieved.

Indoor and Beach Volleyball have taught me that it takes passion, preparation and belief to be successful in anything. The passion will get you up in morning and do the things you may not always enjoy, the preparation is all the hard work and you need to develop the belief in yourself to achieve success.

Great health is what the world needs more of. These days I’m very much in the business of health and talking to people about what they can do to improve their health. Your body is only here for one term, so you may as well look after it.

It’s tough being a female athlete; knowing what to sacrifice and when. You need to follow your heart and no one else can tell you when the right time is to have a relationship and a family. I’ve learnt to get the balance right and everything I do business wise, fulfils my lifestyle and family goals.

People always say that I’m lucky. It’s not luck. I’ve worked so hard and put a lot of effort in to everything I do. I’ve created my own luck. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity as they say.

I’ve learnt that the best decisions are made when you’ve been able to calm down and weigh up all options. The most memorable advice I’ve received is ‘it’s a long time in a pine box… Pick yourself up, girl!’

I’ve learnt a lot from my parents, including a couple of quirky ones like “You’re not bringing home that long haired lout!”

I’ve learnt that I will always stay true to my values. I would never get involved in something that I wasn’t passionate about. I want to help individuals and I want to help athletes. I want to be a leader and pave the way for others. I want to create history and a legacy.

This post originally appeared in The Player's Herald: http://www.theplayersherald.com.au/learntkerri/