How Brooke Hanson Went from Missing Two Olympic Teams to Winning Silver

"As soon as a negative thought would come into play. I'd just smash it down straightaway with a positive thought."

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Australian Brooke Hanson opens up about her incredible journey from missing two Olympic teams to achieving her dream of standing on the Olympic podium. She shares powerful stories of setbacks, struggles with self-doubt and reinventing herself physically and mentally. Most inspiring are Brooke's reflections on the importance of self-belief and focusing inward rather than outward comparisons. Her story is one of perseverance, spirit and never giving up that will motivate all athletes pursuing their Olympic dreams.

Brooke and Brett reminisce about their early swimming days growing up in New South Wales, Australia. Both were identified at a young age as talented swimmers but didn't expect to have successful careers. Brooke was motivated by her father's job covering swimming which gave her access to Olympic heroes.

Brooke discusses missing selection for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics by 0.01 seconds, describing the devastation. She bounced back with a strong performance but missed Sydney 2000 by less than a second. This led to soul searching and a decision to completely change her approach under new coach Leigh Nugent.

“What do I need after missing twice? What do I need? I need a mentor. I need a leading team and to be able to embrace my team afterwards and say, thank you.” - Brooke Hanson

Despite improvements, Brooke faced challenges balancing training and university with three jobs. She considered moving to America for college swimming but opted to focus on Sydney 2000. She reflects on just wanting it badly from a young age, driven by her family's swimming background.

Brooke transformed her physique through dedicated training, prioritizing protein and recovery. This led to criticism but she embraced her new muscular body as a woman and swimmer. And, she dominated at the 2004 Olympic trials, qualifying in four events.

In Athens, Brooke won silver in the 100 Breaststroke. She recounted unleashing her full potential in the final meters for her lifelong dream. Later, though, she faced disappointment in not being picked to swim on the medley relay final despite beating Liesel in the 100.

A few months later, Brooke achieved the performance of her career at 2004 FINA World Short Course Championships, winning an unprecedented six gold medals. She led the Australian women to gold in the medley relay on American soil, an iconic moment.

"As soon as a negative thought would come into play. I'd just smash it down straightaway with a positive thought."" - Brooke Hanson

Brooke emphasizes the importance of self-belief, focusing on one's own abilities rather than comparisons. She enjoys an active lifestyle today while continuing to inspire through public speaking, reflecting on lessons from her incredible journey.


Get a copy of Brooke’s book, “When Gold is Silver” here!

Listen on Spotify, here.

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Time Stamps:
00:00 Hello Brooke Hanson 01:00 Growing up together 03:45 Growing up in a swimming family 06:45 Missing the Atlanta 1996 Team 09:00 College Swimming? 10:00 Falling in love with Jared Clarke 10:30 Missing the Sydney 2000 Team 14:00 Changing it Up with eyes on Athens 16:30 Mentality Shift 19:35 Physical Transformation 22:45 Beating Liesel Jones 23:40 Dawn Fraser & Family 26:00 Swimming freely 29:00 2004 Athens Olympics 38:50 4x100 Medley Relay Snubbing 44:08 2004 World Short Course World Championships 48:00 4x100 Medley Relay 52:10 Hardships 56:40 Brooke's got guns 59:50 When Silver is Gold