Kyla Bremner was Australia’s first female wrestler to compete at an Olympic Games. She placed 17th at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 48kg weight class. Kyla is a seven-time Australian National Wrestling Champion and five-time Oceania Wrestling Champion. The Elite Athlete Program alumna also represented Australia at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, all the while completing a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) (Hons) at Sydney University.
How did your athletic experience at Sydney Uni help push you towards the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games?
Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness and the Sydney Uni Wrestling Club were huge supports in my time at Sydney Uni. I was able to train on campus for no cost, which was great as a student. I had a casual job at The Ledge Climbing Centre for about six years, so SUSF was my employer and provided me with flexible work hours that fitted around my Uni and training schedules.
Access funding to help subsidise trips for international competition gave me valuable experience in the years leading up to the Beijing Olympics. When qualifications came around I had built up my skill level and was able to qualify.
How has being a student-athlete at Sydney Uni shaped your life post-athletic career?
It wasn’t easy studying medicine, working to support myself through Uni and training for international competition, but it was worth it. I’d advise young student-athletes to do the same and set themselves up for an excellent post-athletic career as well. I’ve just turned 40 and I work as a doctor, have three little boys and a wonderful husband. I’m now coaching wrestling and am President of ACT Wrestling, plus I am a coach educator for United World Wrestling, the international wrestling body. Life is busy but fantastic.
What was your favourite part about being a student-athlete at Sydney Uni?
SUSF provided a fun, supportive environment for us as athletes, so going to the gym was like going to hang out with mates. When you’re studying, working and training, there’s not much time for going out or being with friends and the gym provided an important social support as well. Plus there were some amazing top level athletes around who helped us all lift our game and realise what was possible.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
The harder you work the more talented you look. Nothing beats persistence and hard work in getting to your goals. Also, use your time well.
Mike Wiseman represented Australia in rowing, winning three world titles in consecutive years (Junior 1995, U23 1996 and Open 1997). Wiseman was also awarded the Sydney University Sportsman of the Year (1997 & 1998) twice while completing his Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons).
What has been your biggest accomplishment in your sport?
I was a lightweight rower – so hitting 70kg’s before each race when you’re 6’2’’ was a huge accomplishment. I was also fortunate enough to win three world titles.
In what ways is rowing still incorporated in your life?
Aside from a couple of years of masters rowing, I have had limited involvement in rowing since I stopped competing. Over recent years I have had a number of 20 year reunions for various crews and the old friendships remain strong with lots of fond memories of days when we were ‘invincible.’
You recently helped in the development of the new Thyne Reid Boatshed at Burns Bay, Lane Cove. Which aspect of this new facility are you most enthusiastic about?
The boat club facilities from a rowing perspective are world class and any athlete would be excited to use them. However, I am most enthusiastic that this will be the facility that allows the old separate men’s and women’s clubs to come together as the new combined club which will enable a wider participation base for anyone interested in rowing. Both of these aspects are key to ensuring the club can grow with an active and supportive student and alumni group.
How did your athletic experience at Sydney Uni help you find your first position after graduation?
Rowing gave me confidence and a point of difference that people respected when there are so many other talented people looking for positions.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
Keep studying or working while you pursue your sporting career – elite sport was a relatively short window in life.
Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
When you are the last one to give up you inevitably have a win.
Since 1990, Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness (SUSF) and the Elite Athlete Program has helped assist student-athletes achieve excellence in both their sport and tertiary studies. We caught up with two elite athlete program alumni and Australian representatives, Kyla Bremner and Mike Wiseman.