Sarah has worked at the IAAF World High Jump Centre in Cologne before she joined the OAA team in April 2016. Starting as an Intern but took on the role of the Projects Manager later. Sarah has now returned to Germany but continues to work for OAA.
Sarah is from a small country town in the middle of Germany growing up on a farm with 3 siblings, parents and grandparents. Sarah’s Involvement in sports such as Athletics, Gymnastics, Basketball, Soccer and Handball began during her years in school. Early days of athletics training were all fun and games especially when coached by a passionate track and field athlete.
As fitness improved Sarah joined a new training squad at the age of 12 which meant training got a lot more intense. By age 15, specifying in one event became serious which eventually lead her and a friend to take up javelin.
Her involvement in athletics lead to applying for an internship in Australia with Oceania Athletics Association for 6-months as part of her university studies. Being a part of the OAA staff gave Sarah the opportunity to experience what the day to day business in the Oceania Office was like.
Upon working for OAA Sarah quickly realized that athletics in Oceania was very different from Europe. She also learned about the extraordinary environment Member Federations were working in and the issues that come with it. There is also the concept of ‘Island Time’. No one can understand the principle of Island Time unless you are there and have experienced it yourself. When you have been away from the islands long enough you tend to lose that understanding again.
First trip working for OAA saw Sarah travel to Fiji for the 2016 Melanesian Athletics Championships. It was a privilege to work with the local organising committee and meeting athletes from the many different island nations who had all come together to celebrate athletics. Other trips took Sarah to Auckland, many more times to Fiji, Kiribati and Tonga.
As her internship came to an end the opportunity rose to apply for the position of Project Manager for OAA which she decided to apply for and stay in Australia for another 12months taking on the responsibilities of the Pacific Sports Partnership with Fiji, Kiribati and Nauru.
As the new Project Manager Sarah travelled to Kiribati in May 2017 with Executive Director – Yvonne and Bob Snow for the Pacific Sports Partnership Program. This trip became a life changing moment for Sarah. Apart from the fact that Kiribati is very beautiful and unique, it is completely different to anywhere she had seen before. Houses and facilities were very simple in Kiribati, it is the least developed country she had ever been to and working in the heat was a struggle. Even though they had less than most people, the beautiful people of Kiribati still live a happy stress-free life and have the luxury of not missing anything.
Working for OAA wasn’t always serious there were many funny moments that gave Sarah the giggles all the time when thinking about it.
“One that I won’t forget was when OAA President Geoff Gardner competed in the Masters Discus at the 2016 Melanesian Championships against Albert Miller and “that other big Fijian man”. I don’t think you could find the Area President anywhere else in the World competing at a Championships.
The actual funny part happened a year later, when we returned for the 2017 Oceania Championships to Fiji. Geoff, Yvonne, myself and a few others were on a walk into town and we remembered that last year Geoff had competed against Albert and “that other big Fijian man”. A few hundred meters down the street in Suva we heard a man calling after Geoff while we were crossing the road. We didn’t know who he was, but while the rest of the group had already arrived on the other side of the street, Geoff stopped and talked to the man. Turns out it was “that other big Fijian man” and we just randomly ran into him”.
Although Sarah has returned home and has continued her university studies she has still maintained the relationship between OAA Staff and rest of friends in the pacific.
“I enjoyed becoming part of that big family of Oceania Athletics. Meeting new people, learning from them and travelling to countries that I have never been before. Putting faces and characters to all the people we work with, then seeing them a second time, become friends and connect via the sport of athletics. The variety of tasks, people and cultures really make OAA a unique work place. – Big characters and great idols to look up to.
I will miss the people in the pacific, colleagues, and friends. Any place I have travelled to in my life it’s the people I remember and miss. Even though I have seen some stunning places, the people are who make it beautiful memories”.
OAA Staff: L to R (Patty, Alison, Yvonne, Sarah, Tom, Lachlan, Regan)