Female Athlete Podcast, Episode with Amanda Hardy transcript

The fastest racquet sport in the world - chatting badminton with 2 x Olympian, Amanda Hardy.

The Female Athlete Podcast, Episode: The fastest racquet sport in the world - chatting badminton with 2 x Olympian, Amanda Hardy.

Introduction: Chloe Dalton

This episode is brought to you by Victoria Police. Are you made for more? Search police careers to find out. 

Chloe Dalton

At the female athlete project, we often talk about female athletes who should be household names because of the incredible things they have achieved. Amanda hardy is one of those athletes.

She is a sporting legend. She competed at two Olympic games in badminton. She won two Commonwealth games bronze medals. She had a number five world ranking. Her journey spans across 45 different countries.

She joined the Victoria police in 1997 where she now works as a Senior Sergeant. She would fly overseas for tournaments on six days off after finishing her night shifts, and showed incredible resilience and dedication throughout her sporting career.

Amanda shares some incredible stories. She is a ball of energy and I absolutely loved the chance to chat to her. I hope you enjoy this one. 

Chloe Dalton 

Amanda, welcome to the Female Athlete Project.

Amanda Hardy 

Thanks, Chloe, really happy to be here.

Chloe Dalton 

We've been chatting a little bit off-air beforehand. I feel like you've got some very cool stories from your life already to share with us. So I'm excited to get into this one, but can you take us back and describe what Amanda was like as a little kid?

Amanda Hardy 

So a lot of energy, in fact. I was probably one of those kids that got report cards that would say, yes, gets on with it, but disruptive with everyone else. It'd be nice if she'd let everybody else get on with it as well. And yeah, so I played lots of sports. I was fortunate, I grew up in an area in the Western suburbs where we were opposite a school oval. 

So I was always either playing soccer, mainly with the boys at that time on the school level or cricket or running athletics or hitting a tennis ball against the wall. Pretty much anything.

I think my parents would say, no worries as soon as it was light off you go. And then they would just be after dark, I'd be riding back with him on my bicycle. And they'd be like, it probably better if you come back during daylight, but yeah, let's hope that she's used all that energy up.

Chloe Dalton 

Haha, and was there any particular reason that you loved sport and being so active?

Amanda Hardy 

Oh, look, I come from a family who were quite sporty. So both my sisters played sport. They were really good at netball and they rode horses and things like that. My parents, my dad played rugby union in England. My mum was very athletic. So she was really good at athletics, but also both in service industries in the Air Force. And she was a go-kart champion, for instance, in the Air Force, also rode horses. 

And then, yeah, I think just being opposite the school and at playtime, just wanting to get amongst it rather than sort of sitting around reading and things like that. And so they got me into bat tennis programs early. 

And I've got pretty good hand-eye coordination and was quite quick. So don't put me in anything to endurance, but yeah, I think that was how I ended up doing it. And it was the best way to keep me out of trouble.

Chloe Dalton 

And can you tell us a bit about what was called the Big M Little League in South Melbourne, your experience with footy as a kid?

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, so going across the school across the road, I walked across there with a boy who lived next door and I remember walking up to the people who were running the football program there and I said, "hey look we'd like to play and look if you won't let me because I'm a girl, can you let him play?" So at least I was not just thinking about myself at the time. 

But yeah, so they said, yep, everybody comes and plays here. So we were playing and we play each week at different schools and they said, "look we're going to try and see if we can get you into the big M Little League" because back then girls didn't play in the big M Little League and this was a long time ago because it was South Melbourne and not Sydney.

And I remember being on the ground at Seaholme Primary School and the runner came out to myself and my best my best mate Kate and said "they've agreed, you guys are allowed to play or you girls are allowed to play" and we were so excited and so we fronted up at the Western Oval back in the day when you plated the whole ground.

And they didn't have a change room for us of course so we had to be changed, get changed in the umpire's room. We didn't care where we changed as long as we were allowed to wear the same shirt you know. So I was number 11, Mark Browning, back then and really excited, kicked a point but we got flogged so.

Chloe Dalton

The score doesn't matter, you got to play, that's the best part, right?

Amanda Hardy

Oh, and it is that really is the big thing. And I know when the AFLW was realised and all that, I think it makes me emotional now, because back then I played in the school team, and we played in the primary school team, and then both of us played in the high school team. 

And literally, I can still remember then too, both of us would often be in the best few on the ground. 

And one week we were playing and the next week it was determined we weren't allowed to play because we'd reached that cut-off age and there was nowhere to go and so we would still kick footies with each other and the boys still loved to kick footies with us you know they were they didn't care but the rules cared so when I saw AFLW realised and for these girls I just get so excited.

It's a huge step forward.

Chloe Dalton

It's really interesting. And I think for me, because I now get to play AFLW, I grew up in Sydney where it wasn't a big thing. I grew up in a rugby family. And so footy wasn't something I ever really knew about or understood. 

And so it's really cool, I think because one of the biggest reasons that I saw AFLW on the TV and wanted to try it was because I thought they did such a good job of this storytelling piece. 

And for me to understand this idea that there was so many incredible women who had played the game for decades, who never got the chance to play at the highest level. 

So it's really cool. Like it's a real honour to have the chance to chat to women like you who I can imagine might've been a best and fairest in the AFLW if you had your time at that top level.

Amanda Hardy

I would have done my best, you know. Yeah, and that's the thing. And look, one of the things is whilst we don't want the barriers and we've had barriers for far too long, our adaptability to go from sport to sport because at times, A, because at times we have to, but B, because we just have that resolution that we're playing, you know, and we want to achieve and we want to test ourselves and challenge ourselves just as much. 

So for me, it did mean that I was quite adaptable with other sports. I then moved into lacrosse, you know, and at first I played in the boys team, you know, until I wasn't allowed to play in the boys team anymore and there wasn't a local girls team. 

And then so I revisited that later. But I think we're more readily able to adapt our skills across because we have to and we just won't accept that.

You've got this whole kit that you can dig into, but certain rules or certain cultures or certain things are going to say, well, we'll decide when you can pull those out, you know, so.

And I've got to say, along the way, people have been very good to try and fit in, fit you in where they could. But it's nice to be able to not have to consider gender or any of those things to say whether I'm going to go out and play some sport tomorrow, you know.

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, absolutely. It's really interesting that idea of the versatility piece, because I think as you touched on, it's something that's so many female athletes have almost because they've had to not necessarily by choice. 

Like I love the freedom of choice that we have, but I think sometimes our hand is almost a little bit forced because of other barriers that have been put in place.

Amanda Hardy

Oh I think that's absolutely the case. And I think, and you know, we might be able to say that some of the males would be just as adaptable, but they didn't have to. So, so they therefore, like I loved tennis, you know, I absolutely love playing tennis.

But just by way of, we'll probably get being burnt out actually as a tennis player because my coach saw opportunity and that really sort of progressed me too quickly to the point where it just wasn't fun anymore and all of that. 

But being able to adapt those skills and then go and play badminton, which is a completely different sport. But there are aspects that are similar with the sort of the hand-eye coordination. 

But then I absolutely think playing the football and the lacrosse and the cricket and playing soccer and maybe brandy at lunchtime with the other kids and all that. 

It teaches you elements of cross training. And to me, that's probably what's helped later on in my career when I was more serious and, you know, looking for world standing and all of that was you're always looking for that edge because it's great to win games and do that, but you always know you can do better.

And if we just stick to what the traditional program is for your one sport, then you know, I find that limiting. So I think early on where I just went, well, if they're gonna let me play this this week, I'll play something, something different next week.

Later on in life where I've had to be quite adaptable and agile, not just in sport, but in work, I have no issue with that, because that's, that's actually life for me. So yes, it's I think it's, we've progressed because you can stay in the same sport and not have to fight just to be allowed to play your own sport. 

But it doesn't mean that you can't bring in these other elements that you can learn from all walks of life.

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to hear the story about how you got to the point of choosing to pursue badminton.

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, so I was a tennis player, loved it. As I said, I used to wait with my bare feet in the car park opposite the, in the school opposite, and wait for all the teachers to move their cars so I could actually hit against the wall. 

So I'd stand there in my bare feet with my big tennis racket, which was half the size of me and my tennis ball and just stand there with a long face looking at these teachers going, please move your cars. It's after school. Go home so I can hit. 

Chloe Dalton


Amanda Hardy

I started getting entered in a lot of tournaments and well above my age group and playing adults and all of that at 10, 11, and got burnt out really, pretty young to the point where it wasn't as enjoyable. 

So my parents seeing that I wasn't playing tennis anymore just thought she could become a problem here because of her energy. So I was entered in a badminton tournament at school and I remember them saying, or the teacher saying, "your parents have suggested you should play in this badminton tournament". 

I'm like, "I'm a tennis player, I'm not a badminton player", you know, and they said, "Oh, you get the day off". And I said, "Okay, okay. All right, I can, I can do that". 

And so I won the under 14 school girls championships with all tennis strokes and played in bare feet there as well on concrete. 

And there was some talent scouts, I suppose you could call them for the under 16s badminton selection trials that were coming up, coincidentally at El Toner, not far from home. 

And they said, "look, we've got these under 16 try-outs for the badminton team". And I was like, "tennis player, not badminton player". And they said, "I will give you a racket". And I was like, "okay, yeah, no worries, I'll be there". 

That meant quite a bit to me to be able to get, to be given a racket. 

So I turned up to the selection trials and made the team and played in Ballarat first and then the next year because I was sort of still only 14 so played in New Zealand the next year.

And looked it kicked off from there. It was again as long as I'm active and I can be challenged I'm a pretty happy person.

Chloe Dalton

And you sent through, before the interview, you sent through some really cool stats about badminton. Do you know them off by heart or should I read them out about, the fast, being the fastest racket sport in the world?

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, most badminton players will know this because we love to throw it in the faces of any other racket sport or bat sport. 

So yes, the fastest shot, I believe at the moment is about 565 kilometres an hour.

Chloe Dalton

That's out of control.

Amanda Hardy

Yeah which is a smash. Yeah, I know. I know it's great, isn't it? And so the beauty with badminton, so a lot of people think that the height of the net is something like a volleyball net, but it's not. 

It's actually 1.55 metres. So I'm 165 so net sort of is about here which means that you can jump smash do that but it also means if you're here that you're also not protected from those smashes. 

So I have copped a few.

Chloe Dalton


Amanda Hardy

And they will sit you on your backside. So yeah and I think that's the thing when you compare it to say tennis and squash and people say yeah but the courts you know the court's much more than a tennis court. 

But you can be within a metre of your opponent when they actually get onto that smash. 

And depending on the humidity overseas of the courts, it really affects the shuttle. So in a colder area, the shuttle will actually squeeze tighter so it will get faster when you've hit it. 

When it's warmer, then it will actually expand. So then it you know, that affects it. In some locations where we play, we have to consider air conditioning. 

So you might be aiming a metre and a half outside the court to bring it back in, you might be kicking with the wind or against the wind. So that changes your tactics as well. 

And that can happen at Olympic Games. So you could be playing in a venue that you might maybe only hit up for 30 minutes in all up as part of your lead up. And you've got to try and work out air conditioning, lighting, anything that's distracting around the court.

I've played overseas and had an entire crowd wear white shirts behind their opposition's or behind their player so that the opposition would lose the shuttle in their shirts and then get up halfway through and change ends and yeah, so it's all part of the fun.

Chloe Dalton

Wow, that's quite incredible.

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, yeah, they're pretty... and one of the big differences too between that, why I love it. I think it's one of the well, it is probably the hardest sport I've played because you don't really get that advantage like in tennis with a big serve to serve aces and win easy points because it is an underarm serve.

But also too, is we don't do the "quiet please" and "please turn your mobile phone off" and do all of that sort of stuff. There's none of that. In badminton they will be noisy throughout the entire point overseas. 

So you might have a crowd of you might play Malaysia and have a crowd of 15 000 and they will be banging on drums they'll be yelling out they'll be calling out to their Malaysian players to leave shots which is you know completely illegal but how do you stop 15 000 people calling out. 

And we have electronic school boards because you can't hear the umpires and sometimes you can't hear your doubles partner you know talking tactics with you and that but then you'd go overseas and play with that. 

And then you come back to Australia and you might play in front of a few parents and they're telling them to be quiet and you're like, please don't tell them to be quiet. It's all part of the atmosphere of playing Badminton. It's like a soccer crowd, you know.

Chloe Dalton

That's really cool. And one of the other interesting stats that you sent through about it, being why they reported that it's the second most participated sport in the world and the second most watched Olympic sport.

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, yeah. So that's been a sort of a long held belief and mainly because the Asian countries are so supportive of badminton and it's funny because like I lived in China a couple of times and at one stage for six months and you come back and people say to you, "oh look we've got this player from China and he's looking to play, we're not sure to put him in A grade and he says he's played in a stadium" and of course in Australia and England and places like that, everyone plays in stadiums. 

And I'm like, "put them in A grade, at least in A grade". And because in overseas, they will have a lot of outdoor courts and everybody is playing. So in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, you know, it's huge. 

And then, but then other places like Denmark and England, big supporters as well, India, another place. So, and then they participate and then in terms of watching the Olympic Games, they really dominate those creds too and only second behind soccer.

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, it's quite something, isn't it? 

I'd love to talk about your Olympic experience and was it something that as a kid you ever dreamt of?

Amanda Hardy

Um, probably not. Look, my dream when I was a kid, and I remember when I made my first Australian team and said, I think said to my cousins that I, you know, made a badminton Australian team, they said," Oh, but I thought you were going to go to Wimbledon and, and play the finals there for tennis". So it was like, well, yeah, I suppose that was my dream. 

Um, but I didn't, no, I didn't know. I'd actually stopped playing badminton, and was studying and got a job and remember being at my job and in my gap year from Uni and then thinking, "you know what, I may never be that good at something again". And so I went off and sort of trained in secret because I was possibly not as fit as I needed to be. 

And then yeah, and you start playing the circuit, and then that opportunity. 

Because Olympics, I think a lot of people think that you just could be the best in Australia and you get to go. That if you're the best in your country, you get to go. 

But I may have won sort of six or seven Australian titles, but that didn't mean that I was going to be definitely going to the Olympics. You have to, there's a 12 month qualifying period. So you need to be world ranked, a certain world ranking at the end of that 12 months. And then say no Australian or no one from your continent. Or you're sorry, your local area, so including New Zealand, Fiji, if no one has qualified outright then, then it's the top one or the top pair from that area who will qualify. So there's no guarantee. 

So it was, look, it was an achievement to qualify. And I definitely wanted to qualify outright. I didn't want to get in via what I felt was a bit of a, you know, back, back doorway. But it does mean for 12 months, every time you go on the court, a win is a break even, a loss is a recalibration of what tournament do I go to now, who do I need to beat now. 

There were a lot of formulas around number of tournaments versus the points that you'd won, the players you beat above you because you get bonus points for beating people above you, but of course if people below you beat you. So it was interesting, when I was training in China, I can remember playing the China Open and I was the only Westerner playing in the China Open.

Because it's their one chance as a wider population to be able to show their selectors what they can do to then be allowed to go and play overseas. So you literally could be beaten by somebody in China that's not on the ranking list. And that's not good in a world championship or an Olympic year, so.

But because I was training there, I wanted to support their event. And the Chinese were nice enough too that they split up their world junior championship pair to give me one of their players as a partner for the ladies doubles because I was specialising in doubles, so, you know, it's interesting when you play sport and it can be pretty cutthroat and I can go to an area like China who have got, you know, just an amazingly talented pool, but they were just as invested in my career as I was.

Chloe Dalton

Yeah, it's really lovely. 

What was the experience like for you in Atlanta in 1996?

Amanda Hardy

Yeah so it's interesting isn't it, because you, ah I can see almost why people, um, don't stay in the Village.

And I almost think you have to go to one Olympics to experience an Olympics because, for a lot of sports, and you might have experienced a little bit the same.

When you are in Australia and a badminton player, not many people know much about badminton in Australia. 

And a lot of the tournament, you go about your business, you, whereas when you get to the Village, it’s a whole community. And there's such an energy, and there are amazing people walking around with you. And it can actually be quite zapping of energy but also distracting. 

You really have to adapt your training and that, like I mentioned before, we got 30 minutes to train on the actual courts we were going to be playing the biggest matches of our lives. All the rest of the training happened elsewhere. 

Atlanta they had some issues with transport so bus drivers weren't sure where they had to go. So the 30 minutes we were supposed to get, they were late to get us there. 

Each court had a different aspect. So at times we had six to eight people on the court at one time just trying to hit then move across to the next court to just try and hit just to get a feel for the court. What was the air conditioning doing? What were the lights like? 

But look, my first game when we get introduced and they say, please put your hands together for, you know, the top 16 players in the world, that really hits home because it's, you are being measured along with all these other sports, along with these other amazing people who've arrived there and you got to perform and it's, yeah, look, it felt like a great accomplishment to get to Atlanta. 

And then Sydney felt more like what an Olympics is supposed to be, because Atlanta, as well being in the Village, you pretty much didn't travel outside of the Village. You know, it was a different experience. Sydney was, yeah, it was that Disneyland Olympics.

Victoria Police careers: Chloe

Get more from your job with a career at Victoria Police.

The freedom to go on more holidays with nine weeks annual leave.

More connection with your community, where you’ll make a difference every day. 

The chance to meet more people, where workmates became your best mates.

Get all of this and more with a career at Victoria Police. 

Search police careers today. 

Authorised by the Victoria Government Melbourne. 

Chloe Dalton

I want to get to just before you actually got to Sydney. So you talked about the fact that you had pretty good hand-eye coordination. You shot, would we say, shot an Olympic qualifying score for Sydney in shooting. Where did that come from?

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, yeah, so in Atlanta, in Atlanta, and once I was out of my event, so out of my event, may have gone out to a venue with some other athletes who I knew who were Olympic shotgun shooters. 

And maybe as a result of a bit of it, well, I may have made a back-end comment where I said, "well, are you really athletes?", they may be pretty good at bending the elbow and all that sort of thing. So and they said, "oh, yeah, ever handled a gun?" I wasn't a police officer then, had nothing to do with guns, no. 

And they said, "oh, $100 to see if you can hit a target". And pressure on, you know what it's like as a sports person, you don't, you never back away from a challenge like that. 

So get back from Atlanta, and think, oh, geez, I've got to actually go through with this. Frightened, frightened of them. Go to Werribee Range, known Russell Mark from western suburbs and I thought better go and have a look and see whether I've got any chance of doing this. 

And one of the Olympic skeet shooters was there and he knew about the bet and said look, I better teach you about actually holding a gun so you don't smash the side of your face or your shoulder with the recoil. Set me up on thankfully the easiest station in Olympic skeet. So they move around a semicircle and shoot targets that are coming out of two towers that are opposite each other.

And so as you move around the stations, it changes the angle, how much lead you have to give on a target. So he set me up on a pretty easy target where the target was just gonna go away from me and I just had to point straight. And I looked over towards the clubhouse. 

So of course I don't know anyone else there. I knew the two Olympians who were there. 

And there are 30 people standing now outside because they've all heard about this bet now as well. And luckily I managed to just snip the end of the target off. Everybody saw it. So my reputation was intact there. 

But then I'd had decided to join the police force and my training had been about 40 hours a week playing badminton and I just wasn't sure I was going to be able to maintain that and certainly going through the first bit of training. 

So we looked at shooting and I had a bit more of a go at it and really enjoyed the reaction speeds of it. And women's skeet shooting had just been put into the Olympic Games as well. 

So it meant there was opportunity, as we said before, about being able to pivot our, they didn't have a lot of shooters who'd been given opportunity to really hone those skills. So yeah, so I went to a selection for the AIS, for a clinic there.

I just changed guns a couple of, it just sounds funny saying it like that, but I just changed guns a couple of weeks before and had whacked myself in the face. 

So I had ended up with bruising and a bit of a stress fracture through my face and went and shot 22 out of 25. And they said, "look, you've made the AOS, just please stop shooting because that looks so painful. So just stop doing, you've made the AOS camp, come along to that."

And then shot in an event and shot 66, which was fairly low, but that because it was an introduction into skeet shooting, 66 out of 75 was the qualifying score. It's probably about 72, I reckon, out of 75 now.  

And then went up to the AIS. But at the same time, Badminton, we're also saying, why won't you come back and play with us? You still got the skills to be able to do it. 

So, they had a selection tournament up in Canberra at the same time. So I literally played a badminton tournament on the weekend and won the badminton tournament. And then everybody else was coming back to Victoria to go back to the Victorian Institute of Sport, and I stayed up there and went to the shooting camp at the AIS and enjoyed that. 

And look, they pick one person for the Australian team. There was one qualifying spot for Australia and a fantastic shooter, Lauren Mark ended up going in that spot and I mean she was brilliant for that sport so. But it was good fun.

Chloe Dalton

It's quite, it's quite incredible. You make it, was it 66 out of 75? You made that sound quite casual. I don't imagine many people could just rock up and do that.

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, it's, do you know, I think shooting, the more you think about it, the harder you can make it. So I think while I was, it was almost a honeymoon period for me, the more I was just letting my natural reactions just go with it and shoot, the more that I started trying to think about why I was hitting or trying to hit it better, I started to miss. Haha so, you can overthink it.

Chloe Dalton 

Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to go into now a little bit more about your career with Victoria Police and probably some parallels that existed. 

You touched on this idea of when you were a kid playing footy, being the only girl or two girls in the team and having to use the umpire's change room. When you first started with the police, was it a similar story?

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, it was. So I arrived at Cheltenham Police Station and there were two other females there at the time. I think probably the strength of the station was around 50. So we didn't have a change room as such. It was a converted storeroom. 

And to the point where you open up the doors and to make sure that when you open the doors up, you didn't pretty much expose the other female to the males walking past to go to the change rooms, there was a locker set up there. 

And on a quick changeover, because you would sleep at a police station, sometimes on a quick changeover, we would throw a mattress down on the floor there, but that meant no one could get in the door because literally there was no other room.

So once the mattress was down, and if the other female had to come on duty, well that was sort of bad luck, they probably had to get changed in a toilet somewhere.

So that's what it was like in policing back then and thankfully we've got some changes. We've still got a little bit to go, but I think we're up to around about the 29, 30% now. Representation.

Chloe Dalton

And what has your progression been like to get to the point where you're now a Senior Sergeant?

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, so I've been in 26 years and it's funny too, like it's great being a Senior Sergeant, but I'd never, probably like sport for me, I've got to enjoy it. I've got to be challenged, I've got to, it's got to utilise all this energy up. 

I haven't changed, even though I'm now 52, I'm still that energetic pain. So as long as I'm being challenged with work, I'm happy. 

So I was frontline uniform for a long time working the divisional van and funnily enough, as much as I never really put expressions of interest into getting to other places, I was often approached to say, "hey, look, we really need someone to go to be a detective for a while. Do you reckon you could go and do that?" And I'm like, "yeah, sure, no worries.

And it's like, "oh, traffic. Do you think you can work in the traffic area?" Yeah, absolutely. I can do that. And so I've probably my 26 years spent, oh, I don't know, 17, 18 years, seconded off doing other things. 

But what it meant for me too, was I never really, I never even got sick of the van, to be honest, working that. Because as you can see, I'm a bit of a talker. So, getting to talk to the community and hearing their stories and being able to interact with the community is the important part for me. That is why I joined.

So I've been lucky there and then I was getting pushed a lot to go for promotion and I was upgraded a lot without going for positions. And then I applied for Sergeant and so I've worked as an analyst as well. I've been in charge of analysts just to understand and in a lot of strategy roles as well. 

So writing strategies, hopefully to not just combat crime but prevent crime. I suppose those parallels are with the sport, whilst we have crime, whilst we have road trauma and other things, and also working conditions for our people, whilst we have all those things and our jobs, we've always got a job to do and you know, to be better and that for me sports the same, unless you're number one in the world. 

And even then trying to hold on to number one in the world, you've always got to be developing and improving. 

So that's what I really love about this job. If you want to be motivated enough, there's always something to do and always somewhere to go to do something different as well if you are if you need to change.

Chloe Dalton 

How did that work for you while you were preparing for the Sydney Olympics, balancing your training and your work?

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, so obviously when I decided that I would try and qualify for Sydney, so the qualification is exactly the same, so still a year of playing tournaments, but obviously I couldn't go and live overseas for six months, which is what I would do when I would be playing the European Circuit or playing the Asian Circuit. 

So really had to pick and choose the tournaments I was going to play at, really had to perform at those tournaments. But I was brand new into the police as well, so it wasn't a case of being able to go to the request book and say, "right, I need all these off to play tournaments" because I had a job to do and that's what they were paying me for. 

I was really fortunate at Cheltenham where the other members there, knowing that I never pressed to, or I didn't think it was an entitlement for me to have time off or have certain shifts, they would often offer them to me.

So they would, they really worked in and said, "oh, look, we say that you haven't been able to get to your training as much here? Would you like me to take your afternoon shifts here?" I did work what we call a minimum break night shift, which means that every 28 days I would be on night shift. 

And the reason for that was when you did a stint of night shift, you then got six days off, which meant that I could then fly to a closer tournament, whether it be in Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, not worth as many points as your Japan opens and all England's and world championships and all of those. But it did mean that I could at least try and tick over. 

I mean, I had to win them. And sometimes, you know, that’s no mean feat when you've actually been on night shift. So sleeping during the day, I get on a flight and you've got to win five, five games to win the championship. But I had a chance. 

So my work colleagues were fantastic in that they gave me the chance to qualify. And then I will say I'm not a big one for people carrying around mobile phones and doing all that sort of stuff. But I did on the opening ceremony, I did take my phone and the station called me while I was going around in the opening ceremony and just so they could be a part of it. 

And then I bought T-shirts for everybody at the station. 

Chloe Dalton

It's really cool because I love this idea like whether you're playing in a team sport or you're an individual athlete there's always like teams within teams right and your colleagues at that station were part of that journey for you to be able to go there so that's really cool that they could be part of that moment in the opening ceremony.

Amanda Hardy

I wouldn't have qualified if it wasn't for what they did for me. 

So, and that's the thing. And they've all got busy lives. They've all got their own priorities, you know, their kids going to school or bringing up kids and going to pick people up from childcare and doing all of those things were no, absolutely no less as important as me trying to qualify for an Olympic Games. 

But they knew how important it was to me. So, yeah, I really owe that appearance at that Olympics to them.

Chloe Dalton

Can you share a favourite story of your time with the Victoria Police?

Amanda Hardy

Okay, so obviously, we go to some pretty serious ones. I got to, I do a lot of emergency management, fires, floods, all of those sorts of things. 

So, but actually, something that would be an interesting one was going to a report, believe it or not, of a cow on the Gippsland Highway. So you think, a cow on the Gippsland Highway. No worries. 

I come from farming areas on how to deal with cows. But when I got there, we realised that this wasn't a cow. This was a bull that was on the middle of the Gippsland and highway in the middle of peak hour traffic. And yeah, so that kind of changes the circumstances, you know, a little bit, but we still had to deal with it. 

So there were a set of gates nearby, and they went to a golf course. And so it was myself and the ranger out there. And so we started to try and push this bull quietly in the middle of peak hour traffic towards these set of gates. And we got them through the set of gates. 

And, but of course then you've got to deal with the fact that you've now pushed them into a golf course area. You can't just leave them on the golf course. 

We can't leave the bull on the golf course. And as we were in the entrance way, there was a sign, you know, speed hump sign. So you get the speed hump, there's a speed hump sign.

And I kid you not, it was like out of a cartoon where this bull that did have horns walked up to the speed hump sign and started roughing its horns up against the speed hump sign. 

So it literally looked like a cartoon that this thing was trying to sharpen its horns. And then it turned around and looked at both of myself and the ranger and decided, "no, I'm not done with you two yet."

And started coming back towards us. And I just thought, "how has this, and how do you ever explain this to anyone that this has happened?" So we got out of the way of the bull and it started to just headbutt into the gates.

And funnily enough, a person whose fence, because we've got quite the audience now, because we had a heap of houses that backed onto this driveway and they're all lined up on the fence, so great.

And a guy with a whip, stock whip, came out and cracked his stock whip and drove the bull further on into the golf course and there was a bit of a paddock there and we put it into those gates and as far as we were concerned we had contained that bull and we left it to somebody else.

Chloe Dalton

Haha, someone else's problem.

Amanda Hardy

Yeah, but yeah, I mean animals are just interesting when it comes to being a police officer. Alpacas, I have been chased by an alpaca as well over a fence.

Chloe Dalton


Amanda Hardy

Apparently, and he wanted us to feed it apples which it was used to. We didn't quite know that. We were there just to serve some paperwork. 

Chloe Dalton

Hahaha you've lived a very exciting life so far, and I've really loved getting the chance to chat to you today and hear some of your stories. Thank you so much for your time and for sharing those with us.

Amanda Hardy

Ah you're welcome Chloe and I've really appreciated the opportunity to talk about both careers.

Chloe Dalton


Outro: Chloe Dalton

Thanks so much for listening. 

If you got something out of this episode, I would absolutely love it if you could send it on to one person who you think might enjoy it.

Otherwise, subscribe, give us a review, and make sure you follow us on Instagram @thefemaleathleteproject, to stay up to date with podcast episodes, merch drops, and of course, news and stories about epic female athletes.