Beaudesert High School student Riley Day was presented on October 12 with a scholarship by her mentor, Debbie Watson OAM, who is considered Australia’s best ever female water polo player.
The accolade was bestowed at a gala dinner presented by Etihad Airways at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.
Watson said she was honoured to be paired with Day as her mentor.
“At such a young age she has already competed at a world championships and has a wonderful future ahead of her.
“I am hoping I can be an ear for Riley in whatever way she needs, any assistance or advice I can provide to help Riley achieve her goals will be my pleasure to give.”
Before the presentation night, Day said the scholarship was a shock and an amazing surprise.
“To be chosen out of all of the very deserving applicants is an absolute honour.
“I am very grateful to receive this scholarship and will embrace every opportunity so that it enables me to further my career.
Day said the presentation night was an amazing experience.
“It was just was just awesome to be in the same room as some of Australia’s greatest athletes,” she said.
“I’m so excited to work with and hear what she has to teach me.”
She said her ultimate goal was to win gold for Australia at international level including the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics but her immediate future would involve focusing on training.
“Just strength and conditioning for now and then at the end of the year we’ll get back on the track,” she said.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chairman John Bertrand AO said the mentor program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for recipients, including Day, whose personal bests of 11.59 sec over 100m and 23.26 for her favoured 200m were world-class, highlighted by a silver and gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
“These scholarship and mentoring programs are designed to give our young athletes a turbo boost into the real world of high-end performance on the world stage,” Bertrand said.
“It is a truly money can’t buy experience and the success rate has been a phenomena.”
A program spokesperson said successful recipients received one-on-one personal mentoring by a current member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, in what was a unique and life changing experience.
“Recipients were also awarded a $5,000 sporting expenses grant, as well as one international return economy flight thanks to major sponsor Etihad Airways,” he said.