Purpose, pain, sacrifice – it takes a lot to be an Olympian. Caitlin Ganter spoke to world champion hurdler Jana Pittman-Rawlinson about medals, motherhood and midwifery.
One thing that is clear about Jana Pittman-Rawlinson is her determination.
The single mother is juggling a hectic training schedule, care of her five-year- old son Cornelius, and a return to the books as she begins a midwifery degree at ACU’s Melbourne Campus.
“To say I’m always busy is quite an understatement – my average day involves dropping my little boy off at school, then uni in the morning, training until lunchtime and physio for about three hours,” Jana said.
“After that I’m picking my son up from school and spending the evening being a mother and studying.”
“It’s important to be goal-orientated and stay focused on your dream. I really believe that anything is achievable if you are patient and honest with yourself. “
"If you want something enough, you can get it.”
A two-time world champion in the 400 metre hurdles, Jana won gold at the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games, but she’s also had her share of challenges. Just before the Athens Olympics, Jana was devastated when she tore the cartilage in her right knee during a warm-up.
Despite undergoing surgery in London only one week before the start of the games, she still managed to finish fifth in the final.
"I’ve never won a medal at the Olympics and it’s something I constantly dream of. It keeps me driven. I won’t be able to rest until I obtain this goal. I’d give all my titles back for one Olympic gold
“Injuries are always an issue for me,” the 28-year-old said.
“I’m a very tall athlete and this causes a lot of problems. It’s hard knowing you’d be able to win a race, but you can’t compete due to injury.”
Just a few months ago Jana underwent minor surgery on her Achilles Parthenon (the fibrous sheath around the Achilles tendon) in her left ankle, but is confident she’ll be in top condition for the 2012 London Olympics.
“These Olympics are very important to me,” she said. “I’ve pretty much won every other title there is, but I’ve never won a medal at the Olympics and it’s something I constantly dream of. It keeps me driven. I won’t be able to rest until I obtain this goal. I’d give all my titles back for one Olympic gold.” Jana’s desire to win gold is surpassed by one thing only.
“My son is easily the most important thing to me, he is incredible and my greatest achievement,” she said.
“Having a child definitely influenced my decision to study midwifery. My midwife was so amazing and got me through such an extraordinary life experience that it really inspired me to do the same.” Jana said that she was aware a sporting career couldn’t last forever and that it was important to get some qualifications behind her.
Once she graduates, she hopes to either study medicine or become a practicing midwife.
“The course is fantastic and AC U has a really flexible athletes program that helps me a lot. I have a great relationship with my lecturers and I’m very glad I made the decision to enrol.”