Lewis recognised at Australian Deaf Sports Awards
Brisbane Barracudas water polo star Jamie-Lee Lewis has been named the 2011 Australian Deaf Sports Female Athlete of the Year in a ceremony in Geelong last month.
The three-time National Water Polo League (NWPL) premiership winner and daughter of Rugby League legend, Wally Lewis, received the award for her performances in the pool and for her role as ambassador for Victorian Water Polo for the deaf.
Lewis, who was the first deaf person to be selected to represent Australia in a hearing sport when she was chosen in the Australian Junior women’s water polo team, said she was very humbled by the honour.
“While I was very surprised, I was also very happy,” Lewis said.
“It is a huge honour and when I told some of my teammates they were so happy for me.
“As for my parents, well, I know they are proud of me. I have always had a saying ‘we know we are deaf but we can try to achieve anything’.”
The 21-year-old, who was also named Australian Water Polo Player of the Year with a Disability in 2009, added to her two NWPL titles with a stirring performance for Brisbane in the finals series last year.
Despite being injured for the majority of the season, Lewis was able to come back and help the Barracudas to their third straight premiership, a record in the women’s competition.
With the 2012 season now underway, the Barracudas women have had two wins from as many matches, and Lewis is looking forward to helping her teammates to an unimaginable fourth win.
“I am now ready for the national league again. I am very excited about it, because I want to improve and perform to the highest level,” she said.
“I know I can do it and I am very lucky to have wonderful teammates and coaches, so hopefully this year will go as well as I want it to.
“I didn't have a very good year last year as I had an injury that required shoulder surgery and to be honest, I lost plenty of confidence and my mental approach was down.
“But coming back to get the title and talking to my coach Fabio Pavanello helped a lot and pretty soon I was training harder and swimming more confidently and I’m now ready for this year.”
And with that attitude, it’s no wonder she has inspire thousands of other young hearing impaired athletes to follow in her footsteps.
Now in her third year of the program with Victorian Water Polo, Lewis has conducted numerous training sessions with deaf students in Victoria and has shared the advice that has seen her rise to the top.
“My motto is to never, never, never give up,” she said.
“As athletes, we all have struggles - ups and downs mentally, as well as physical injuries that can be frustrating - but we all have goals we are determined to achieve.
“It's okay if you haven't achieved your goal, you just have to keep trying and your hard work will be worth it.”
Lewis will continue her journey with the Brisbane Barracudas when they play their next national league game against the UNSW Killer Whales today.
A win by the Barracudas will see them consolidate their spot near the top of the table.
To catch all the latest NWPL action click here http://bit.ly/zeVYdV