Australian Olympian Bree Walker finds strength from her father, who ever encourages her to greater heights. He has been dedicated to supporting her in her sporting endeavours since childhood, sacrificing that she may succeed in her passions.
Read this incredible story of Mick Walker and his 29-year-old daughter Bree, taken from the Australian Olympics news site.
‘I think you need to come over and give Bree a hand.’ They were the words of Bree’s boyfriend Christian, who picked up the phone in Europe and called her dad, Mick Walker in Cairns — right in the middle of her preparation for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Christian could sense something wasn’t quite right for the mono-bob and bobsleigh athlete and only one person who could address it.
“I got really homesick,” Bree said… I’ve never been away from my family for longer than two years. I really wasn’t performing very good or feeling very good about everything.”
Being a bobsledder on the World Cup tour from Australia requires a unique commitment and resilience.
It is one of the most time-intensive sports to train and compete in, you never have a home crowd or home ground advantage, and the climate is different to from where Bree grew up in Mount Evelyn in Melbourne.
For most of her sporting life, Bree was accustomed to seeing her dad everywhere she went.
“When I was very young, a 6-year-old, I was a horse rider.
“There were a lot of not-so glamorous 5am starts on Sunday mornings in the freezing cold, where Dad would get up to get the horse ready while I was still staying in bed for a little while and then getting myself ready.
“By the time I’d roll out, Dad would have the horse float hitched up to the car and the horse ready to load up. I would just have to roll into the car, hardly able to coordinate myself because it was really early.
“When we would roll into a horse show, there weren’t many dads around, it was mainly horse mums. Dad would be there plaiting my horse’s mane and doing all the things the mums would normally do. It was just us two really running our show for the first few years.”
Mick was always ready to spring into action if there was anything he could do to make Bree’s experience better.
“One time my horse didn’t want to go over the jumps in the cross-country competition. The horse just didn’t want to go that day, we didn’t know what was up with him.
“Dad ran down to the jump I was stuck at, and he helped me get this horse over the jump. Dad then proceeded to run the rest of the cross-country course with me so I could get through the competition there.
“That’s one of my biggest memories of when I knew Dad would do absolutely everything for me in order to be able to compete.”
From horseriding, Bree transitioned to athletics, with Mick still finding ways to be as useful as possible.
“Every single weekend, Dad would come down to the track in order to be able to help us all compete and participate, because it was mainly parents running the show there.
“Then as I progressed through the ages, you were able to go and compete all around Australia. Dad was always by my side.
“There were special routines I always needed from dad. He never actually stood at the finish line to watch the end of my races. He stood at the top of the 100m straight as I was coming around in the 400m, because that’s where I needed the help most.
“I needed the final encouragement home for the last 100m. Dad would always stand there and scream and yell at me to get my arms moving. All throughout my sporting career it was just me and Dad.”
So, what was Mick’s biggest motivation to be a ‘Mr Fix It’ for Bree?
“When we did sport with Bree, she had this special gift that both my wife and I could see there was something there,” Mick said…
“Her first Australian title entry in athletics in Sydney, once again we didn’t have much money. But I had a really nice motorbike sitting in my shed and thought, ‘Well, I’ve had my fun,’ so I sold it and gave the money to her.”
With his daughter spending most of her time overseas these days, he has adapted his approach to have the biggest possible impact on Bree.
“Bree and I can be really blunt to each other talking on the phone.
“One time she was struggling, and she rang me up on a Thursday night before a competition in Innsbruck, Austria and said, ‘Dad, I’m really struggling with this.’
I said, ‘Just get some mongrel in you and get it done.”’
“That’s all it has to be with Bree.
“Then when I was sitting at home watching her compete, she wins the gold medal.”
“It’s not like Dad is a Bobsleigh expert, but he knows me very well,” Bree said.
“Sometimes I guess I’m thinking too much when I’m wanting it to be perfect. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be perfect, like Dad said, ‘let the mongrel out’ and sometimes I forget that because it’s not like I have people who have known me for 29 years around me.”
When Mick heard Christian’s request for his presence in Germany to help Bree finish off the 2020-21 season, it did not take long for Mick to show up…
“I don’t know if I would have got through the season with as much success as I had without dad there. My best week of my career was in Winterberg (Germany) and that was the first week my dad was there, so I credit that a lot to him.”
Mick absolutely loves his daughter, who owns Australia’s best-ever finish in any Bobsleigh discipline at the Olympics (5th in monobob on her Olympic debut at Beijing 2022), and is extremely proud of everything she’s done.
Read full story here.
I don’t know many dads who would sell their favourite motorbike for their daughter. Mick Walker did, but he is a hard act to follow!
Hopefully this week you will be inspired to give a little bit more for your family, just like Mick.
Yours for More Inspirational Dads,
First published at Dads4Kids.