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Netball legend Nat Medhurst joins AIS group to lead change for female athletes

Nat Medhurst is part of a new advisory group comprising of Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes to help guide the direction of female performance and health in Australian Sport.

Medhurst, who won gold at the 2014 Glasgow Games alongside her Diamonds teammates, is among 14 women selected to join the AIS Female Performance and Health Initiative Athlete Reference Group alongside Lead Dr Rachel Harris, also Chief Medical Officer for Paralympics Australia and the Water Polo team.

The group will focus on knowledge and support on matters of female health, wellbeing and performance, including the menstrual cycle, menstrual abnormalities, puberty and hormonal contraception.

Nat Medhurst. Picture: supplied.

Medhurst told The Netball Post she was honoured to join the group as it resonates with her own life experiences as an elite netballer.

“It is something quite personal this whole space, knowing what I went through at the back of my career and with my own personal fertility issues – and no one discussing these things with me as a female human being,” she said.

“It is something that just isn’t addressed, what we do day in, day out impacts all of it. I am very passionate about this.

“I have lived experience and the other athletes I played against and with have experienced it as well.

“The lack of discussion that is had around [women’s health, fertility and the menstrual cycle] is an issue. Players are looked over with a fine-tooth comb for performance, however, it is time individuals are looked after – this needs to be discussed openly and honestly.

“For me, this is about being able to play a small role in making a difference for future athletes.”

Australian Sports Commission Chair Josephine Sukkar said it’s critical to give athletes a strong voice on matters that directly relate to them.

“The AIS is deeply committed to supporting and elevating our women athletes and I am proud the organisation has once again taken a leadership role in establishing the AIS Female Performance and Health Initiative,” she said.

“The AIS FPHI was created to address a real need in the high-performance sport system and the Athlete Reference Group will ensure that this important resource remains relevant. I look forward to seeing the impact the group will have in guiding the next stage of the AIS FPHI.”

The Athlete Reference Group will meet quarterly with Dr Rachel Harris and AIS Professional Networks Manager Miranda Menaspà over the next 12 months to discuss the direction and issues.

AIS Female Performance Health Initiative Athlete Reference Group: Abigail Paduch (Judo); Lea Yanitsas* (Water Polo); Gracie Elvin (Cycling); Stephanie Moorhouse (Gymnastics); Stephanie Kershaw* (Hockey); Sally Phillips (Basketball); Natalie Medhurst (Netball); Sarah Hawe* (Rowing); Jessica Smith (Swimming); Kaitlyn Fassina (Weightlifting); Nina Kennedy* (Athletics/Pole Vault); Beki Smith (Athletics/Walk); Elise Rechichi (Sailing); Bree Walker (Bobsleigh)** [*selected for 2020 Tokyo Olympics **selected for 2022 Beijing Olympics]

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