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Women in Sport: Interview with Anne Besser

Posted: 07-Aug-2019 by Maccabi NSW

Interview with Anne Besser – Triathlon champion.
By Mandy Penkin

Recently, I caught up with long-time supporter of women in sport, and all-round champion, Anne Besser. Anne is a 5-time recipient of the Maccabi AUSTRALIA Masters Sportswoman of the Year award and 7-time recipient of Maccabi NSW Masters Sportswoman of the Year. More importantly, it is Anne’s unfailingly smiling face, infectious cheerfulness and never give up attitude that inspires and uplifts. Here’s what Anne had to say …

What has been your hardest time in sport and how did you motivate yourself to keep going?

Being involved in sport and aiming high has put me outside my comfort zone on many occasions but, gradually learning to face the demons that jump out at you - every time you ’push’...helps build determination and self-respect big time! 

An example of this is where I had gone around the country racing, trying to qualify for Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne.  I made the Australian Team, crashed and broke my elbow which needed major surgery.  The race was in 4 months and with an elbow full of pins and plates, I kept training one armed.

I did that race with it’s steep descents on the bike etc, the swim and ran the whole 10kms to finish with a huge grin - and a floppy left arm!

In 98 Triathlons, 8 Consecutive Triathlon World Championships, 3 Maccabiah Games and 1 Maccabi Pan American Games..... I ALWAYS finished the race!  

Your determination is in the 6” between your ears and it is all about believing in yourself setting goals in achievable bites and following through!  

What is your best sporting moment and what did you learn from it?

My greatest moment in sport was when I had qualified for my 8th World Championships which were returning to Australia on the Gold Coast in 2009.

I knew this would be my last triathlon because I was having severe spinal issues which needed surgery (probably caused by my almost life-long competitive Figure Skating ...and the jumps involved which I was doing until I was 48).

There were 954 Triathletes from around Australia on the Team and I was given the Honour of being Flag Bearer at the Opening Ceremony.  I was also invited to speak at the Australian TeamCarbo Party....a real thrill.

By the time I was 4km into the run  at Worlds, I kept falling to the ground and the nerve pain was excruciating.  Many times I waited a minute until I could get my head around the pain and then got up to give it another go....could not WOULD NOT disgrace myself or the Australian uniform and withdraw!!

But....with all this greatest achievement was to actually FINISH that Triathlon!

In fact, whilst coming down the Finish Chute, there was a male member of the Aussie team doubled over with shocking cramp and unable to move.  I went to him and we supported each other across the line ....our finish times mattered not....a very special moment.

If you could go back and talk to your teenage self – what would you say to her (and her friends) about reasons for continuing to participate in sport or exercise?

Life can throw some curved balls at us all and how we catch them...AND throw them back....makes us stronger and better people.

No matter what is making life difficult, challenging or just downright hard, I always try and work around to find the ‘back entrance’.  There is always a way to persevere and follow dreams...we just have to believe, be strong-willed and determined!

Respect your amazing body and brain...explore where it can take you!  Challenge yourself, find something you’d love to do AND DO IT!  Keep positive people around you....weed your garden of those negative people who will always find a problem for every solution.....SMILE and say to yourself...”What’s next?”

At nearly 73...bring it on...I’m having too much fun!

I intend to keep competing until I’m at least 100! And then I’ll say “What’s next?”


It’s got me thinking – What’s next? I hope you are too. Look out for our next WIS article for more inspirational real stories from our own community of power women.

Carnival 2020


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