Australian rower Nikki Ayers has been named as one of 16 Thrive with Pride ambassadors as she strives to make sport a more inclusive place as part of the Australian Institute of Sport initiative.
The program is in its second year and features rainbow athletes and allies who want to drive LGBTIQ+ inclusion initiatives within their sporting communities over the next six months.
Ayers said she wanted to be a visible role model as both a proud Paralympian and member of the LGBTQI+ community.
“I have been a member of sporting communities that embrace the LGBTQI+ community and others that are lacking in awareness and inclusion. I want to create change that embraces a culture of inclusivity and a safe environment for all community members and specifically the LGBTQI+ community.
“These changes will allow everyone to perform as athlete at all levels without barriers and negative stigma. I aim to do this by providing education and drawing on my lived experience to improve the culture amongst the sporting world today.
“I am a positive role model striving to be a champion of change in creating an environment for all athletes to feel comfortable within their sporting organisation. I want every member in the LGBTQI+ community to be who they are and have a positive and rewarding experience as an athlete and be a proud member of the LGBTQI+ community.”
AIS Acting Director Matti Clements congratulated each of the new ambassadors and said the appointment has come at a momentous time.
“We know how powerful the athletes voice is so to have sixteen Australian athletes helping to educate and drive such important initiatives and conversations is really exciting,” Clements said.
“There’s also a huge amount of momentum at the moment with close to 20 sporting events being held during the Sydney WorldPride 2023 festival, all aimed at promoting visibility and inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people in sport, which is what our program is all about.”
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has once again engaged the expertise of Pride in Sport and Proud 2 Play who will work alongside the athletes to ensure they feel equipped and empowered to be role models in this space.
More information about the program can be found here.
2023 AIS Thrive with Pride ambassadors:
- Alyssa West, Water polo Australia, South Australian Sport Institute
- Amelia Catt, Sailing, West Australian Institute of Sport
- Charlotte McShane, Triathlon, NSW Institute of Sport
- Greta Hayes, Hockey, NSW Institute of Sport
- Heath Thorpe, Gymnastics, NSW Institute of Sport
- Kalinda Robinson, Cycling, South Australian Sport Institute
- Katerina Paul, Snow, Victorian Institute of Sport
- Kaylia Stanton, Netball, Victorian Institute of Sport
- Maria Strong, Athletics, Victorian Institute of Sport
- Matthew Mitcham, Diving, NSW Institute of Sport
- Natalya Diehm, BMX, Queensland Academy of Sport
- Nikki Ayers, Rowing, ACT Academy of Sport
- Poppy Starr Olsen, Skateboarding, NSW Institute of Sport
- Rowie Webster, Water polo, Victorian Institute of Sport
- Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Netball, Queensland Academy of Sport
- Serena Bonnell, Bowls, Queensland Academy of Sport