In this series, we spotlight some of Shanghai's most aspiring athletes and ask them why playing sports is so important to them.
What sports do you play?
I partake in a wide variety of sports, including swimming, football, rock climbing, cross-country, gym and triathlon. I would have to say swimming is my favorite.
When and why did you start playing?
I have played football for the majority of my childhood, and owe it to my father’s passion and his involvement as both a coach and a player. In addition, the main reason behind my involvement in so many sports would have to be my diagnosis of scoliosis.
What do you love most about playing sports?
For me the love of playing sports comes from the ability to challenge myself everyday and to have the drive and initiative to excel. Participating in sports allows me to be part of something much bigger at Wellington. Every one of my teammates are always there for each other – the strong bonds that we have built is even more reason for me to love what I do.
What is your most memorable moment?
At the International FOBISIA Swimming Championships in Phuket when I made it to the 50m breaststroke finals. Truth be told, I had already given up my hopes after a horrible start, however, I pushed myself above my limits for what was left of the race. When I got to the end I reached for the touchpad with every ounce of strength left in me. As I turned around, time stood still as I scanned the board for my name. I saw myself improve 6 places, from 8th to 2nd and I won my first ever FOBISIA Swimming Championship medal.
How do you balance your sports life with your schoolwork, social life and other activities?
By maximizing the 24 hours of each day. I have early morning swimming practices, evening practices, as well as training and competitions on the weekends. We are given opportunities at school during the school day to complete homework or simply study, which is very helpful. Of course, the majority of my time is devoted to academics and learning, yet during my week, I still have sufficient time to spend with my friends and family.
What has your experience been like playing on sports teams at your school?
I enjoy the amazing team spirit here at Wellington. Whether it is competing in relays together or simply watching and supporting each other in races, I feel like my swim team has grown to be a family for me. Being a senior member of many teams gives me the opportunity to lead through defeat or victory.
What are the most important qualities of a good athlete?
Every athlete should have strong determination, a balanced lifestyle, and without a doubt, strong support from friends and family.
Have you won any awards or trophies for the sports you play?
I have won many trophies and medals throughout my many years as an athlete, however, as great as winning those might have been, they were not my greatest achievements. My biggest success in life is surely and without a doubt battling and overcoming scoliosis through my dedication and determination in sports.
What is your favorite professional sports team?
It’s unquestionably FC Bayern Munich (German football team).
Leigh-Ann Franetzki is in grade 10 at Wellington College International Shanghai.