24 February 2021
The She Leads College Conference, taking place on Friday 26 March, is a one-day leadership event for young-women, non-binary and female students in years 11 and 12. It is designed to equip participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders in their community.
This year’s theme ‘Wild’, is about how young people can harness personal adversity and using it to thrive as leaders in their personal and professional capacities. Perfect to speak on this theme is professional mountain biker, Bec McConnell, who will present a keynote presentation at the Conference.
Bec McConnell is a 29-year-old born and bred Canberran who has had dreams of being a professional mountain biker since she was a kid. In the company of her brother and dad, Bec took up the sport at age 10. By age 20, she made her Olympic debut at the 2012 games in London.
Bec has since represented Australia at the World Championships, the 2016 Olympic Games, and two Commonwealth Games. At times during this busy and exciting career, Bec has experienced a number of challenges, such as having to step away from the sport due to illness. The hardest part about being “taken away from the sport”, says Bec, is “the pressures from myself and professional teams. But I have made the decision to put myself and my health as a priority”.
In 2019, Bec made a comeback from an illness and reached the peak so far in her sporting journey, earning a Bronze Medal at the World Championships in both 2019 and 2020, ending 2020 ranked as the #2 in the World.
When asked if Bec considers herself a leader, she says, “I have never seen myself as a leader or sought to be the Inspiration of others. I have always fought for what I believe in, especially when others have tried to bring me down. As Australia’s only professional female mountain biker in a sport that is European based, I have always worked hard to show that there is a way. To make it in our sport it will never be easy, but it is possible”.
I am a happy and caring person. I love to spend time with my family and puppy, but I am also a hardworking person who can be quite hard on myself and at times, stubborn.
Tell us about a moment in your life that kick-started your leadership journey.
There was no ‘moment’ for me, it has been about progression. I have always been pushing for change in our sport, for young people and especially young women.
The comparison of men and women in sport is always exhausting.
Illness has been my major personal challenge, along with motivation and confidence. Another challenge I faced was having other individuals control my opportunities early in my life.
Take chances and don’t get bogged down in little things that don’t matter in the big picture.