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Why Athletes Are Great Motivational Speakers


Professional athletes make for great motivational speakers. Whether it’s speaking to school students or a room of corporate execs, sports stars make an impact with their stories.

1. They understand what it takes to stay committed to a common goal

Athletes make sacrifices on their journey to success to fulfil their set goal, through dedication, diet and perseverance. Whatever your goal may be, the qualities you need in order to achieve them will be similar to those of an athlete. These examples and stories give every day people the inspiration and confidence to overcome challenges.

2. The odds of becoming a professional athlete are small

Not everyone can do it. The percentage of people who go pro isn’t high. Elite athletes have done a range of things to succeed at the highest level and set themselves apart from the crowd.

Some of these factors include overcoming adversity, putting in the extra work, dealing with emotions and inner strength. These become natural traits for an athlete.

3. They understand what it is to be apart of a team

Being involved in a team is second nature to an athlete, who can relate to the concept of teamwork like no other, as it is apart of their daily routine. At some point, all of us will be in a team and need to work together to achieve a common goal; elite athletes can teach us what we need to understand, practice and implement in order to achieve success together.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

There is no denying that elite athletes have important traits along with some remarkable stories we can learn from.

Here are just some of the top athlete motivational speakers that you can book right now through PickStar.


Alex McKinnon

McKinnon played 49 NRL games for the Newcastle Knights before suffering a spinal injury during a game which made him a quadriplegic. Despite facing unimaginable challenges, McKinnon refuses to be defined by his injury. With a passion for seeking perspective, leadership and helping others to achieve their best, McKinnon maintains a positive outlook and continues to motivate himself and others, for both professional and personal development.

Anna Meares

Meares is one of the most successful and decorated female track cyclist in history. She is the only athlete in Australian olympic History to win individual medals at four consecutive Olympic Games. Throughout her career she has faced numerous mental and physical challenges including a 2008 injury where she was millimetres from being paralysed. Through tragedy and triumph Meares remains down to earth, with her story never failing to win peoples hearts.

Brad Ness

Ness is a Paralympic Gold medal captain with the Australian wheelchair basketball team. After losing his leg in a workplace accident, Ness has a highly developed awareness of the importance of sound occupational health and safety practices in the workplace and how best to achieve these. He can present these concepts at various levels to meet the needs of the company and to motivate staff to achieve best practice in the workplace.

Ness has travelled the world in his pursuit of excellence with the Australian team as well as living and playing basketball in Italy for more than 10 years. He uses these opportunities and experiences to engage and inspire.

Charlie Walsh

Walsh is one of the toughest and most successful coaches in the history of Australian elite sport. He achieved astonishing success as Cycling Australia's track cycling coach for 20 years, coaching his athletes to 78 Gold, 50 silver and 51 bronze medals, along with numerous world records. He achieved all of this as one of sport’s most polarising coaches. Charlie wanted success, not popularity. The success of his tough love approach clearly speaks for itself.

Listen to Charlie Walsh on PickStar's Off-Field podcast.

Danny Green

Danny "The Green Machine" Green is an Australian boxing legend and a three-time world boxing champion. An inspiring speaker, Danny Green has some amazing stories to tell about the paths in life he has taken, the heartbreaking setbacks he has overcome and the almighty sacrifices he has made to become a world champion in the most brutal of sports - as well as being locked in a cage with six lions and surfing alongside a shark!

Duncan Armstrong

Armstrong is a former Australian competitive swimmer, media commentator and corporate speaker. He's been Young Australian of the Year, has received an Order of Australia Medal and has successfully inspired countless others to achieve their highest corporate and personal goals. Part underdog, part larrikin, part businessman - there's something about Duncan that appeals to almost everybody! He's a passionate individual who is just as inspiring as he is entertaining.

Grahak Cunningham

Cunningham is an ultra-distance runner. He is a four time competitor and champion of the 3100 mile race (5000 km), the longest and most gruelling in the world. Competitors run from 6:00 am to midnight for 51 days and run a minimum of 60 miles a day (96.6km). To finish, competitors must develop and utilise skills of resilience, stress management, team building and 'never giving up' attitude (understandably so!). Outside of sport, Grahak has over 10 years experience in sales and marketing in the medical industry. Grahak believes it is possible to go beyond our perceived limits and aims to inspire and teach ways to achieve your goals in life, business and sport.


Libby Trickett

Trickett is one of Australia's favourite athletes. She is a decorated professional swimmer whose career success includes winning gold at three consecutive Olympic Games, as well as one silver and two bronze medals; eight world records, eight long course and seven short course World titles, and five Commonwealth Games gold medals. Since retiring from the sport in 2013 she has used her platform to open up about mental health, including her own struggles.

Mark 'Squiz' Squirrell

Squiz was awarded the Green Beret when serving in the Australian Special Forces, he is a UN humanitarian and in 2006 climbed Mount Everest to raise awareness of the global hunger crisis. He has mastered the challenges of performing under pressure, communicating effectively and building relationships. When he speaks, Squiz uses anecdotes and presents real time scenarios that demand lateral thinking to deliver relevant and practical tips for those working in today’s complex global market. He is an extraordinary man with a remarkable journey.

Mick Colliss

Mick Colliss is an author, writer, rugby commentator, emcee, guest speaker and modern day poet. As a young kid growing up, his dream was to play for Australia, but he quickly discovered desire is no substitute for ability. Finally, at the age of 42, after successive failures at cricket, rugby league, rugby union, surf lifesaving and lawn bowls, he discovers the game of sudoku (he can’t play that either). But it didn’t stop him picking himself and three mates from rugby in the first ever Australian Sudoku team and traveling to India to compete for his country at the World Sudoku Championships.

Mick’s is a laugh out loud true story about mateship, having a go and never giving up, no matter what the odds. And while he’s not a star athlete or gold medallist, there are many lessons that can be learned from Mick’s story.

Hear a snippet of Mick speaking on a podcast episode of Off-Field.

Patrick Hollingworth

Patrick is a normal, everyday Aussie bloke ... who just so happens to have climbed the world's highest mountain. After a decade of hard work and perseverance, he stood on the summit of Mount Everest. Patrick believes that a life half-lived is a life wasted, he is an advocate for chasing your dreams and considers himself to be an example of how stepping out of your comfort zone is how you can discover who you truly are.


Sharni Layton

Sharni is one of Australian Netballs' best. Currently playing for the Collingwood Magpies, Sharni's career credentials include a Commonwealth Game gold medal and two gold medals representing Australia at the National Netball Championships.

Outside of sport, Sharni has dabbled in the life of media, she received her Diploma in Management and is currently studying at the Coaching Institute.

Sharni recently spoke out about mental health challenges, and maintains a never back down attitude in sport and life.

Steve Bradbury

Steven is one of Australia’s finest and most popular motivational speakers, corporate entertainer and Master of Ceremonies. He has spoken at over 750 conferences and events in 15 countries. We all fell in love with Steven when he became the first Australian to win a Winter Olympic gold medal. His remarkable and unlikely victory in the speed skating event is one of the most memorable Olympic moments in Aussie history! This part in his career is only one small snippet. His journey, honesty and humility is part of the reason Steven is such a desirable speaker.

Tammy Van Wisse

Tammy has swum over 65,000kms in her career, which equates to more than one and a half times around the planet! She has swum the English Channel twice and has won the prestigious 48km race around Manhattan Island in New York. Tammy has holds five world records, and is a dynamic achiever with a passion for success. Her unique sporting achievements along with her infectious personality make Tammy a refreshing and captivating speaker.

Tony Mowbray

No one knows tough waters quite like Tony Mowbray - literally! He has sailed 15 Sydney to Hobart races, spent 54 days on a non-stop expedition around Australia and in 2000 successfully sailed around the world solo and unassisted. He now has his own Adventure Sailing business with his son, giving everyone the chance to experience incredible destinations in an exhilarating way. His remarkable achievements have made Mowbray one of Australia's best motivational speakers.

You can book any of these speakers through PickStar, the best place to book sports personalities and elite athletes for any event, marketing campaign or engagement you can imagine.

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