In the year 2000, we were 14 and 17. We had both spent the few years before 2000, listening to and watching the hype and build up of the Sydney Olympics Games. It was such an exciting time. We felt like we were part of it. Lisa went to the Olympic Games and Jess went to the Paralympic Games. Our Aussie Athletes were idols. And they were our age. Giaan Rooney was one of those idols. Fast forward 16 years and she is no longer winning gold Medals but living life as a mum. A wife. An ambassador. A business woman. She is in our Instagram feed no longer as a sporting idol, but as a hardworking, inspiring woman who is taking over our tv screens and our activewear. We were lucky enough to meet Giaan recently (she is a total sweetheart by the way) and she was kind enough to let us interview her. Enjoy.
Well hello Giaan, how are you? How is that gorgeous Zander of yours?
I’m great thank you! Life is crazy, impromptu, exhausting and exciting at the moment and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Zander is brilliant, talking non stop (I feel sorry for his future teachers all ready!) and getting cheesier by the day if possible, I think ‘spirited’ is the right word for him!
We have said before that we are a bit stalkerish and we think that is because we grew up in awe of you. Watching someone our age, at the Olympics in 2000 (the greatest games ever) and you totally kicking butt, left us inspired. Not to swim or become Olympians (we could not be further from athletic), but to push ourselves. So. For those followers who didn’t grow up watching you and have no idea what you are up to, tell us, what are you up to these days?
Where do I start???!!! I work for Channel 7 presenting sport, which includes things like working at The Australian Open Tennis, The Australian Swimming Champs and reading the Sports News for the 4pm bulletin out of Brisbane a couple of days a week. I get to chat with Larry Emdur, Michelle Bridges and Kelly Landry on ‘The House of Wellness’, which is a radio show all about how to lead a healthier, happier life, on Sunday’s on the Fairfax Radio Network. I work with some exceptional Australian companies like CareSuper (I’m a big believer in planning for a fabulous retirement now!) and Evolution Health who are the geniuses behind LifeSpace Probiotics, as well as being incredibly hands-on with my Giaan X Spalding range of exercise apparel available at Target. I support some incredible charities including The Nelune Foundation, Lort Smith Animal Hospital, The Nappy Collective & Thankful and we are in the middle of building a house! Oh, and I get to commentate at the Rio Olympics for Channel 7 in August!
Zander looks like a ball of fun. How has motherhood challenged you? Is it what you expected?
Zander is a cheeky little ratbag who makes me laugh and love like never before. Motherhood has certainly challenged me in ways I never thought possible, from going to ‘Sleep School’ when Zander was 6 months old (it saved our lives, would seriously recommend this to anyone who has sleep issues…) to missing him when he is asleep! The first 12 months was one of the hardest years of my life and an absolute emotional roller coaster, so I have had to learn to ‘go with the flow’ a bit more and adopt the best advice I received…. Whatever works!!!!
What is your go to advice for new mums?
Have a support network in place. I backed myself into a horrible place when Zander first arrived….. We didn’t have any family close by, my friends were all busy in their lives, my Husband, Sam was travelling and away most weeks for work, I went back to work after 12 weeks, I didn’t feel like I fit in with my Mother’s Group and I had a Bub who hadn’t read any of the ‘Baby’ books so only needed 40 mins of sleep every 3 hours…. I certainly wasn’t enjoying life or being a Mum all that often. Once I started to build a team around me (that is why they say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’!) and feel comfortable asking for help that everything started to fall into place, but I was a very stubborn, independent, proud, determined Woman before that!!!!
You are off to Rio in August to cover the Olympics. Do you feel the buzz of the Olympic village and feel the nerves of the athletes as if you are back there or do you feel like a mumma bear wanting to support them and show them the ropes?
Definitely the latter! I was fortunate enough to compete at 2 Olympics as an athlete, and I have worked at 2 Olympics for the TV coverage and whilst some feelings are the same (there is such an excited buzz in the air!) I am very comfortably ‘retired’ and love actually watching all the best athletes on earth do their thing, rather than trying to compete myself. Nothing compares to watching history in the making, but sometimes I wish they could all win!
Do you still see and catch up with former athletes?
Yes! Although being in a sport can be compared to High School (everyone is close when you are in it, but once you are out, you realise you don’t have a lot in common) some of my closest friends I have met through swimming. And any major competition is like a reunion!
Which up and coming olympian/s should be watching out for in Rio? We love to support new faces.
This is one of the strongest & most exciting swim teams we’ve had in a while with 21 ‘Olympic’ rookies! Too many to list, and I don’t want to add any pressure so I just urge every Aussie to watch and cheer on the Green & Gold!
We have tried some of your Giaan for Spalding range at Target on. Unfortunately we did not look like you when we put it on which we were hoping but it is great and affordable too. Must be pretty cool having your own label!
So cool! I absolutely love designing and creating affordable, fashionable, functional exercise gear that is flattering for women of all shapes and sizes, even just thinking about the next range makes my heart start pounding! I am incredibly chuffed to have been offered such an incredible opportunity to get all the ideas I have had in my head for so long a chance to be seen & worn.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I do get down time I love nothing more than heading to the beach with my boys. I find the ocean and the sunshine so restorative for my soul and the smile on Zander’s face as we ‘jump’ over the waves makes my heart sing. Such a simple, joyous pleasure!
Do you follow or support any inspiring women or charities that you think we and our followers should check out?
Yes! I would love you to check out the amazing charities/organisations I mentioned above! I have a 3 legged, Jack Russell X Fox Terrier called Lester from the Lort Smith Animal Hospital in Melbourne which is the largest Not-For-Profit Animal Hospital in Australia and has been operating for over 80 years.
The Nelune Foundation provides psychological and practical support, assistance and care for public hospital and underprivileged cancer patients in the community. The Nappy Collective was started by a group of amazing Mother’s who collect unused, disposable nappies nationally and distribute them to women’s shelters and organisations that help Women who are escaping Domestic Violence.
Thankyou is a social enterprise who practice and preach the ‘profit for purpose’ business model. They create beautiful, high quality products and give 100% of the profits to help people in need around the globe.
We thank you for your time Giaan and hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
You can follow Giaan at:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/giaan.rooney
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GiaanRooney/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/GiaanRooney