Beki Lee, the London 2012 Olympics 20-kilometre walker, swapped her Olympic walking shoes for comfortable joggers when she took part in the 2013 Mount Druitt reconciliation walk held on Saturday, May 18.
The 26-year-old local was invited to come home from Canberra where she now attends the Australian Institute of Sport Race-walking Program.
“I’ve been part of these things a few times, growing up in Mount Druitt and being an indigenous person, an athlete,” said Lee.
“To actually lead the walk is an honour. It makes me proud of being a Mount Druitt girl, being an indigenous girl, and being an Australian.”
Lee and her partner Daniel are expecting their first child in September and she says her priority is to remain as fit as possible while not overdoing it. Her plans for the next 12 months include the Australian 50-kilometre Championship Meet to be held in Melbourne in December and the nationals in February to prepare for the 26th IAAF Race-walking Cup in China on March 23, 2014.
“I definitely want to be in Rio [the Brazil Olympics in 2016],” Lee said.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue competing after London but I have a fire in the belly and I would love to go to Rio, and hopefully get a top ten finish there. That’s a realistic goal for me.”
The elite athlete revealed that she uses Bob Dylan classics to “get into the zone”.
“This is an important pre-race ritual for me. Being involved in an endurance event you don’t want to over excite yourself so I don’t listen to music that will pump me up. I like to listen to music that relaxes me,” she said.
On the walk she was seen holding a banner that read “Reconciliation, NSW, Mount Druitt, Community”, adorned with likenesses of Sydney Harbour and Aboriginal art.
Lee led the walk with Chifley MP Ed Husic.
“It was excellent – an honour for a Mount Druitt girl, up from Canberra for this reconciliation walk, to be a part of it and give back to the community. The Reconciliation committee has done an excellent job here today,” she said.
That sentiment was widespread on the day with many people expressing a feeling of moving forward; a feeling of mutual acceptance – both of their similarities and of their differences – and of being proud of their heritage but also of being Australian.
Lee was very clear about her desire to express her indigenous background and to be a role model for young indigenous girls who strive to achieve their best.
That includes giving something back to the Mount Druitt community. As an Australian athlete who competes against the best the world has to offer, she plans to continue to represent her area, her heritage and her nation to the world.