Becoming an Olympian
My name is Sarah Carli. I'm a financial advisor at HLB in Wollongong and I'm also a 400 metre hurdler who competed at the Tokyo Olympics. I'm a Wollongong local. I grew up here in the Illawarra. When I finished school at 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Like a lot of 18 year olds, I ended up getting into a Bachelor of Business with my 10th preference. So I decided to give it a go and I did quite well my first year and I transferred into a Bachelor of Commerce and I decided to do a major in management and finance again because I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I picked two majors that were quite broad that would give me more options when I did graduate. Having a job as a financial advisor as well as being an elite athlete simultaneously is a lot at times. But I think it's very important to have something away from sport that gives you fulfilment like my job does. Qualifying for the Olympics, I still remember the day that I found out and I got a phone call and I think the immediate feeling was relief after everything that had happened for me in the build up to the Olympics. It was just a massive weight off my shoulders to know that I was finally going and it was going to happen. You spend years training and there's so many variables and so many things out of your control that can happen. And to finally get that call and know that I was in the team was a lot of a lot of different emotions. My my build up to the Olympics wasn't, I guess, traditional. I had an accident in the gym. I was actually training at the university in the gym here. And it was just a routine training session. And I was stepping up onto a box with a bar on my back when I slipped and fell and the bar came down on onto my neck and I ended up in emergency. And after having a seizure, I found out that I had dissected my carotid artery, which was an internal tear in the wall of the main artery here that supplies blood to your brain. And I had to have emergency surgery that day, and they took a vein out of my thigh and put it into my neck to repair the artery. And when I woke up, they said no exercise for five months. So at that point, the reality of competing at the Olympics was unachievable for me. But after a very long and slow recovery process, I was able to compete at Tokyo and I was given the all clear just six weeks out from the day I toed the line. So it was an absolute whirlwind and it was a very, very hard and long process. But I was able to do it and that's that was all that mattered. I got to that box and say that I'm now an Olympian. At the very beginning. I had said that I was going to make it. And I even when I was sitting in the ICU at Wollongong hospital, I said, I'm going to the Olympics. And I kept telling that to my family. But there was definitely days where I had doubts and there was definitely days I said, I don't know if I can do this. The experience of competing at the Olympics was absolutely incredible. There's there's no other way to put it. It's like you train your whole life to become an Olympian. It's the pinnacle of sport and to finally step out onto that track and know that I'm going to cross that finish line and become an Olympian is it's amazing. And I think for me it was different because you train your whole life and you expect to be there in career best shape. And I wasn't. And we knew that I had six weeks of training. So I guess for me it was about being present and being able to really soak it all up and enjoy the experience. And I remember crossing that finish line and I think the enormity of what we had pulled off kind of all hit me at once. And I'd been I didn't realise that I had been holding my breath for five months and I finally let it out. What's next for me? I have the world championships in Budapest next year and then from there I have unfinished business with the Olympics. So I plan to be at the Paris Olympics in career best shape.