From Cotton Dam to Olympic Dream: Narrabri's Laura Gourley Makes the Team

Posted by Rabobank Australia on

Paddock to Paris - Laura Gourley

Whether it’s rowing training on a cotton storage dam, or dragging tractor tyres for strength, it takes a certain ingenuity to overcome the hurdles our elite rural athletes face.

And now, as the path to Paris narrows, the stories of our rural and regional athletes vying for Australian Olympic Team selection reveal the talent, determination – and sacrifice – it takes to represent the nation.

Rabobank is thrilled to again be partnering with Skye Manson of Manson Podcasting Network to share these stories through her latest podcast ‘Paddock to Paris’.

During the lead-up to the Olympics, the podcast will profile rural and regional Australians who are on their way to the Paris Olympics, celebrating their successes while highlighting how difficult this can be when home is somewhere so far away from a training facility.


Paddock to Paris - Laura Gourley

The first story off the blocks is Laura Gourley, a born and bred Narrabri (Edgeroi) local who will compete in the Australian Womens Quad Skull– a four-person boat with two oars.

Laura, a three-time Australian underage champion, who relocated to Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains to pursue her passion, chats with Skye, reflecting on her farm childhood, the Gourley family ‘pool room’, missing home, and her feelings leading up to the official Olympic selection announcement.

Her parents, Ian and Georgina Gourley have taken time out of their busy farming schedule over recent months to support Laura, and by mid-July, her entourage of family and friend cheering her on in Paris will swell to 28.


Paddock to Paris - Laura Gourley



The sacrifices the Gourley family has made to support Laura’s rowing aspirations have been vast, and include remotely organising the logistics of her training while she was at boarding school in Sydney, to travelling Australia, and now the world, to watch her row – which Georgina laughs is not such a burden.

“Beyond school, the main sacrifice has been about spending time with Laura within her training schedule, yet it’s all been worth it, we are very excited for Laura – it is a huge achievement for her to have come this far, and attending the Olympics is huge!”

Since she was a young girl growing up on the family farm, Georgina believes Laura has long understood the value of putting hard work in to achieve her objective, “life on the land is never nine to five”, and Laura herself admits coaches tend to appreciate the resilience of country athletes.

“There are quite a few rowers from the bush, and the coaches often urge us to find our ‘country tough’ during training and competition.”


Paddock to Paris - Laura Gourley

Showcasing rural and regional athletes has been a fascinating learning curve for podcaster Skye, who admits she knew very little about the process behind Olympic selection prior to this project, yet was inspired to share the story of Australia’s quite rural athletic achievers.

“I don’t think I have ever been this excited about an Olympics. I feel very lucky to have spent time interviewing these athletes - and as a result I feel quite connected to them! I really hope this connection conveys to the listeners too. I’ll definitely be tracking them closely once the Olympic start on the 26th July. Can’t wait!”

Skye’s Paddock to Paris podcast will launch on Thursday 4th July at 6am, and will be followed by other stories of country athletes and their path from the paddock to Paris.

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