It takes a special type of person to become a goalie, facing balls travelling at 80km per hour and leading the team from behind.
Gabi Palm is one of the youngest members of the Aussie Stingers at 22 years of age. Playing her junior years in Brisbane she has since moved down to Sydney to play at Sydney University for the AWL and helped lead the side to an undefeated season before the season was abruptly cut short due to COVID-19.
We sat down with Gabi to learn a bit more about her story and what advice she has for athletes looking to balance their studies and sport.
I’m sure you get this all the time but how did you get into water polo and what inspired you to become a goalie?
I started playing water polo as I was starting high school as a way to meet new friends. At trials no one wanted to be goalie, so I was asked to give it a go due to my height and knack for breaststroke. I loved it from the start and haven’t looked back!
You’ve played all over the world with both junior and senior Australian teams, do you have a favourite pool/competition venue?
I have been very fortunate to play at a number of different pools, however nothing beats playing at home in front of a home crowd. The Valley Pool in Brisbane is the pool where I played my first ever water polo match and I also have been able to play for Australia at this pool, so it will always be special for me.
As water polo is not a career path alone (at least in Australia) how have you managed your water polo, studies and career?
Being in the Aussie Stingers and with the Olympics looming, water polo is my priority at the moment - trying to be the best I can be come Tokyo. However, I’ve also made it a priority to progress my university studies on the side (whether it’s simply doing one subject per semester) so when the time comes to retire, I have something I can transition into.
Do you have any advice for any athletes looking to juggle both their studies and water polo and excel at both?
Time management is key! I make sure I allocate enough time for both water polo (training, gym, rehab) and my studies in order to give myself the best chance to exceed at both. Time management is also important in being able to allocate time for some fun with family/friends or simply having some downtime.
You are such a great ambassador for our sport, it’s awesome to have you as a Delfina Ambassador. Do you have any final pieces of advice for anyone aspiring to represent their country in a national team?
To pay attention to the little things - such as being punctual, having a good attitude and enjoying yourself - because they all add up to the big picture.