Q&A with Alumna and Rio Olympian Lisa Darmanin

Thursday, 4 August 2016  @Business School

We sat down with alumna Lisa Darmanin (BCom 2013) to discuss her upcoming bid in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Lisa is competing in the Mixed Multihull as part of Australia’s sailing delegation. Her event takes place on Thursday, 11 August 2016. UNSW Business School wishes Lisa and her sailing partner Jason the best of luck. Go for Gold!

UPDATE: Lisa and her cousin Jason sailed into the medal race in Rio and pulled off a fantastic second-place finish to earn themselves the silver medal! Congratulations Lisa!

Q: How long have you been sailing and how did you first get involved with the sport?

A: I started sailing when I was nine years-old and I started sailing internationally when I was 16 years-old. I began sailing for fun with my brother as my mum had grown up sailing with her brother. We participated in races all around Australia and eventually I teamed up with my cousin to take it to the next level.

Q: When did you make the transition from recreational sailing to competition and why?

A: My cousin Jason asked me to start sailing with him to qualify for the 2008 Youth Worlds. I did it because I always liked a challenge but thought it would be fun. We competed again in 2009. I really thrived off the international competition which is when I started considering giving an Olympic campaign a shot.

Q: Once you started competing, what did your training schedule look like and how has it changed for the Olympics?

A: Training has been getting more intense and more full-time. The first year I campaigned was 2013 and that was my final year at UNSW Business School. I was away for the whole first semester, except for week one but the School was very supportive. I did three subjects by distance and it was extremely difficult. With my current training regime there is no way I would be able to take even one class. I spend five to six days on the water and the same at the gym. My whole life revolves around the goal - it has to if you are aiming for Olympic Gold!

Q: What’s it like having your cousin as your teammate?

A: I love sailing with my cousin. We are best friends and great competitors. We both have similar work ethics which makes it easy to campaign with him. It's great to share it with family and we have such a fun time on tour together. I didn't get picked for my athletic ability but rather I fit the optimum weight to pair with Jason who was growing fast (and weight is a huge aspect in our sport).

Q: Is sailing your full-time job or are you pursuing other career interests and passions? Do you think sailing will always play a role in your life?

A: Sailing will always play a role in my life, but not always competition. I'm a very driven person and when I was younger I put all my eggs in different baskets. I certainly am 100% focused on this basket at the moment but in the future I see myself pursing career opportunities in the world of marketing and public relations.

Q: You’ll be competing in the Mixed Multihull. For our readers not familiar with sailing, what exactly is that and what are you responsible for on the boat?

A: The Mixed Multihull is the first category in Sailing at the Olympics that is compulsory mixed gender - one female and one male. The boat is a 17 foot catamaran, known as the Nacra 17. It has three sails and semi-foils (which means it flies above the water sometimes).

There are two roles on the boat: the helm, which is Jason and he steers the boat and makes most of the tactical decisions, and the crew - which is me. My role is to make the boat go fast by trimming the sails and I also feed Jason information about the wind, tides and other boats so he can make decisions.

Q: The Mixed Multihull is a new category at the 2016 Olympics. Is it exciting being part of the first teams to compete in the event? Does it make the Olympic experience even more magical or stressful?

A: The Mixed Multihull is so unique and it's an amazing class to be involved in. The mixed gender is awesome and we are the fastest boat in the Olympics (or so we like to claim). The racing will be incredible and being part if its debut will be exciting for all!

Q: Excitement and nerves go hand-in-hand at the Olympics. What are yours and how do you keep calm and focused when competing at the highest level?

A: I think it's hard on shore when everyone is hyped up. I recently farewelled all my friends and family and it's amazing to see how proud they are of me regardless of the result. So as much as it's wonderful to hear everyone is behind you, you have to switch that off and focus on the job.

As soon as I step on the boat, the rest of the world disappears and I'm just out there doing my job and being the best sailor I can be. It's easy on the water. On shore and at night I've recently been getting into meditation to help me learn to focus on one thing at a time and stay really grounded. I've found it really helps.

Q: Aside from winning a Gold medal, is there anything else you hope to achieve, do, see or accomplish while in Rio?

A: I hope to enjoy the experience as much as possible. I'm so focused on the goal at the moment that taking everything in probably won’t happen until after we compete. I look forward to appreciating every moment and I recognise how lucky I am to be racing at the pinnacle of my sport on the world stage.​

You can catch Lisa in the Mixed Multihull beginning at 2.05am AEST on 11 August. And in case you missed it, watch thelatest episode of Pulse featuring Rugby Sevens star Henry Hutchison.

To follow the progress of Lisa, Henry and all our Business School students and alumni competing in Rio stay tuned to our Facebook page. And to learn more about both our current athletes and former Olympians, keep an eye on the UNSW Business School Newsroom throughout the games.

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