OLYMPIAN Izzi Batt-Doyle is an example of resilience personified and a poster girl for healthy lifestyles, making her the ideal role model for school students in Port Adelaide’s Community Youth Program.
5000-metre runner Batt-Doyle is in Tokyo preparing to live out her Olympic dream but will have one eye on what is happening at Alberton having been raised in a passionate Port Adelaide supporting household.
The 25-year-old’s great uncle Ron Batt played for Port Adelaide during the 1940s and 50s and her mum Rosey and stepdad Chris are long-time passionate club members, even travelling to Shanghai to watch Port play in 2017.
So, when a friend suggested she get involved in Port Adelaide’s Community Youth Program, Batt-Doyle jumped at the chance to share some messages around the benefits of healthy lifestyles and STEM with primary school students.
“I really enjoyed my time working in the CYP,” Batt-Doyle told portadelaidefc.com.au about her time running school-based education sessions in 2020.
“I enjoyed being an example for the children that girls could have sporting careers too and showing that there is a variety of sports to have a go at.
“I’m passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and studied a minor in nutritional sciences at university so I particularly enjoyed helping the children learn about good fuelling and reading food labels. I think that the children really enjoy hearing from and learning about what the athletes do – especially the footy players.”
Batt-Doyle’s time in schools with Port Adelaide’s Community team was short-lived because of her return to full-time study (a combined Masters/PhD in Clinical Psychology) and her focus on her running.
Six stress fractures in her foot over a two-year period while competing in the US Collegiate system had her contemplating giving up the sport. But fit again and with a new-found confidence in her body and her ability to compete, Batt-Doyle earned her way to Tokyo, doing so the hard way.
“The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of sport and it's any elite athlete’s end goal, but it's more been something that's a dream but felt like a long way away for most of my career,” Batt-Doyle said.
“Since I was a teenager, I might have said I want to go to the Olympics one day, but I hadn't really understood the amount of dedication, commitment, and hard work (and a little bit of luck) that really goes into it until the last couple of years.
“Towards the end of the domestic season, I had run one second off the Olympic Qualifying time and placed second in both the National 5,000m and 10,000m Championships. There is a new ranking system but to get a definite spot at the Olympics you must run the qualifying standard (and be top-3 in your country). There were no more races on the Australian calendar, and I had to travel over to Europe if I wanted to line up to try and get the time. I took the risk and headed over to Europe at the end of May with one month left in the qualifying period, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to come home for at least three months.
“I qualified on the 29th of May 2021 in Nijmegen in the Netherlands at a meet called Next Generation Athletics. I had arrived in Europe a week earlier. I won the race in 15:04 which was 6 seconds under the necessary standard of 15:10.
“Running the standard and winning my first race in Europe was a massive highlight of my athletic career. When I crossed the line, I was overwhelmed with emotion, I felt so much happiness, relief, and excitement. I showed up to that race with a job I had to get done, I was extremely calm and confident leading into the race and during the race, but afterwards I was crying and really letting it sink it what I had achieved.”
Having just moved into the Olympic village after a few days in a hotel outside Tokyo, Batt-Doyle understands her Olympic experience is slightly different to previous campaigns.
So far she has been limited to accessing food in a dining hall or taking a bus to a nearby track to run laps twice a day because of limitations on athlete movement.
Athletes are competing without spectators or family to cheer them on, and Batt-Doyle was not able to attend the opening ceremony.
But she is grateful to be there and living out her dream.
She is also grateful that Port Adelaide is doing well so far in 2021.
“I will definitely be keeping tabs on Port through the footy season,” Batt-Doyle smiled. “I am sure I will hear about it all from my parents too.
“Port doing well keeps our household in good spirits!”
Batt-Doyle is one of several Port Adelaide links at the Olympics. Swimmer Kyle Chalmers and Matildas captain Sam Kerr are each the children of former Port Adelaide players (Brett Chalmers and Roger Kerr), while rower Giorgia Patten is the cousin of current Port Adelaide defender Jake Pasini.