I’ve never interviewed an Olympic athlete before, so when I sat down with Leisel Jones I had all the questions about what really goes on behind the scenes of a professional swimming career.
It’s not all pretty, in fact a lot of it is very, very dark.
Listen: Leisel Jones on making it through the lows.
My memories of Leisel were very much what the media had shown me: sullen during her first couple of Olympics (Dawn Fraser called her ‘a spoiled brat’) and uncertain during her last (the media became obsessed with the idea that she didn’t ‘look’ fit enough to compete – as if they had a clue what was required of an Olympic swimmer).
Both images were wildly inaccurate. In person, Leisel is charmingly and disarmingly bubbly, quick with a joke and engagingly warm. She looks exactly like the Aussie girl she is, comfortable in her skin, no bullshit, doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Mia and Leisel in the Mamamia offices.
But it's taken a lot of work to get here, as much work mentally as it took physically to get to the Olympics and win a swag of medals.
Against the odds and against the expectations of some, Liesel made it all the way to the top of her sport, to hell, and back again and her story had me leaning right in.
Listen to the full interview with Leisel here: