Lisa Forrest is a story teller
for all ages.
She became a household name
when she burst onto the international swimming scene in 1978 as a 14
year old school girl - with an infectious grin and bright personality
she quickly became the darling of Australian sport, but it wasn't just
her performances in the pool that brought her to prominence. Lisa's
sports career spanned one of the most turbulent periods in Australian
While in Year 11 at high
school Lisa captained the Australian swimming team to the 1980 Moscow
Olympics and was one of a small band of high profile athletes that lead
the campaign to defy Malcolm Fraser's federal Government in its attempt
to support the US lead boycott of those Games. Facing death threats,
falling public support and withdrawal of vital sponsorship funds Australia
nevertheless made it to Moscow, but the campaign to get there took its
toll. Lisa failed to win the expected Olympic medal in her pet event,
the 200m backstroke, in dramatic fashion. In more ways than one the
Moscow Olympics would be a defining moment in her career.
Retiring after gold medal
performances at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, Lisa then did
what no sports woman had done before her - made a successful move into
the media. A well-respected commentator of sport, she was the first
woman to host her own national sports program, Saturday Afternoon Football
in 1986 on ABCTV. Not content to stay in the sports 'box' she again
broke new ground moving into general reporting via The Midday Show with
Ray Martin. She has since hosted television shows such as Everybody
on ABCTV and her own radio program, The Evening Show featuring the Radio
Quiz on ABC Radio 702 as well as performing as an actor in Channel 10's
hospital drama Medivac.
In 2000 she
became a successful author for young adults when her first book Making
the Most of It was released. It has since been added
to the NSW Board of Studies recommended reading list for Years
7-10. Her other books include djmAx and a chapter book for younger
readers, Meg Banana. Her latest book is Boycott, her account of her own experiences as the captain of the Australian Women’s swimming team at the 19080 Moscow Olympics. She can be heard hosting
Qantas' award winning in-flight program A Current of Air and
is working on a new novel for young adults (working title Lip)
while trying to keep up with her young son, Dexter.
Lisa Forrest is many things
to many people: actor, author, emcee, TV and radio presenter, interviewer,
mother, Olympian. She is an accomplished speaker with a story that is
not easy to categorise. While on the surface, a sports story, it would
be a mistake to think it has limited appeal. Chasing her own dreams
in the face of enormous public expectation, drawing insight and wisdom
from the best and the worst personal experiences, she has become that
thing so rare to find in these homogenised times - a true individual.
I think her keynote address lasted for almost an hour - but I could
have listened for two. Her engagement with the audience was brilliant:
she was insightful, funny, inspiring. She had the audience absolutely
silent, occasionally in tears one minute, and rolling around with laughter
- Mark MacLeod, President, Children's Book Council of Australia
We had a senior management
conference last week and heard from the likes of John McGrath, Adam
Spencer (JJJ radio) etc all designed to inspire innovative thinking.
It was refreshing last night to hear someone so clearly and colourfully
remind us we are individuals, empowered to follow our own path. I went
home feeling privileged to have heard her story and continue to reflect
- Greg Isaacs, ABN AMRO
ABN AMRO employees have
been fortunate enough to listen to some very high calibre speakers over
the last couple of years, but there is no doubt that Lisa was the most
inspiring of them all. Her story, her delightful manner, her humour...what
a wonderful combination. I have long been a fan, but am even more so
- Sharon Clarke, ABN AMRO
Many of the boys who
heard her speak have commented very favorably on the 'life skills' aspect
of her presentation, as have mothers, telling me about their sons' reactions.
Sometimes we forget that the boys need to be able to talk about their
emotional lives and hear from an outsider that it is OK to have feelings.
I especially thank her for that.
- Sue Richer, Senior Librarian, Newington College
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