Being a sporting prodigy capable of representing your country at the highest level when you’re just 16 years old is rare enough. But the truly amazing thing about Ellyse Perry is that she was talented enough to do it twice — in two entirely different sports.
The 28-year-old Sydney-based sports star made her Australian cricket debut against England in July 2007. Then, less than a month later, she did it again — this time playing soccer for the national side.
To make it to the highest level of any one sport is an almost impossible challenge, but to do it twice in a month is superhuman. So what’s her secret?
“The biggest thing for me was all those times when I didn’t feel like doing something or I couldn’t be bothered. Because if you can find it in yourself to drag yourself along to those things, to get up a little bit earlier, to eat the right things, it’s amazing how that little bit of extra effort pays off down the track,” she says.
“But I’m also just incredibly passionate about what I do so I never really see it as work. It just comes as second nature.
“Sport, and even just physical activity, was such a huge part of my upbringing. My mum and dad both played sport, and so did my brother. And every lunchtime we were running around, or in the backyard or the park. It’s just always been a part of my life.”
When you’ve hit the lofty peak of two sports — so much so that both the national cricket and soccer bodies were fighting for her signature — you’d think there weren’t too many goals left to accomplish.
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But Ellyse says goal setting at the beginning of each sporting season is still what keeps her fit, firing and performing at her best.
“I like to write stuff down at the beginning of each season,” she says.
“There’s always goals there which is the best part about playing sport; there’s always a new challenge, always something to aim for.”
EAT LIKE A CHAMPION
One the benefits of playing sport professionally at such a young age is that your body feels invincible, bouncing from training session to training session without a creak or groan.
But as Ellyse has gotten older, her body has started complaining more often, so much so that she sued to take anti-inflammatories to get her through matches.
But a recent diet overhaul changed all that completely.
“I decided not to eat any junk food, basically,” she says.
“I’ll still have foods that aren’t amazing for you but I try to steer away from preservatives, added sugars, trans fats — all the things that are associated with inflammation.
“And it’s really worked for me. I used to take a fair few anti-inflammatories around matches and training but I haven’t had to in the past five months.
“Before I started doing it, I’d wake up in the morning and have to take four or five steps before my joints would loosen up, my ankles would be so stiff.
“But now I get up with no issues and it’s transferred into the rest of the day with back-to-back training sessions and all that kind of thing.”
FIND FITNESS FRIENDS
Ellyse is understandably a huge fan of team sports and not just for the camaraderie between teammates — but because there’s always someone there to convince you to train, to push harder, to work more.
“It is so much easier to exercise when you’re with a friend. You have days when your motivation fluctuates but you know you have to turn up because someone else is counting on you and you have someone to pull you through it,” she says.
“It makes a big difference. That’s one of the best things about playing a team sport — sharing is caring.
“But there are so many other skills that are transferable to life. One of the big ones for me is the idea of commitment. Things shouldn’t always go your way, and often the best things are the hardest things, the things that challenge.”
1. Favourite treat food?
Pancakes or waffles
2. Favourite motivational music?
I don’t mind a bit of junk pop music when I train
3. What’s your tip for getting started in fitness?
Find someone to do it with. When someone else is relying on you, you’re going to turn up
4. What’s your happiness hack?
Having a really great support network around you
5. What’s the best part of playing sport?
There’s always new challenges and goals
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