Meet Stacey Hymer: student, foodie and Olympian

Meet Stacey Hymer: student, foodie and Olympian

Food tech and nutrition student Stacey Hymer is gearing up to represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympics for Taekwondo.

Hymer, a fourth year Bachelor of Science (Food Technology and Nutrition) student at RMIT, will compete in the 57kg class at the Tokyo Olympics, with her first event against Canada's Skylar Park on Sunday 25 July.

The 22-year-old established herself at the pinnacle of the featherweight division in Australia, after kicking down the door with a gold medal at the 2018 Oceania Championships, and bronze medals at the 2019 French Open, 2019 Korean Open, and 2020 Dutch Open.

Stacey Hymer Stacey Hymer will compete in the women's taekwondo -57kg event at the Tokyo Olympics.

Hymer qualified in March 2020 but then faced a nervous wait to confirm her position after the tournament was postponed.

In June this year, her fate in the green and gold was sealed when she was announced as one of four Australians in the taekwondo team.

“The moment I found out I’d been successful, I was ecstatic. My family and I were all in the lounge room jumping up and down in excitement,” Hymer said.

“The journey has been crazy. Since winning the 2018 Oceania Championship and realising Tokyo 2020 was a possibility, I have been travelling all around the world for competitions to build up points.

“Representing Australia at the Olympics is something I’ve work so hard for, and I’m honoured that I can own the title of being an Olympian as it’s something I’ll always carry with me.”

Building up to this moment, Hymer has been training five technical sessions a week, with intense conditioning sessions and meticulous recovery sessions, all while completing her degree.

Hymer has been part of RMIT’s Elite Athlete Program (REAP) since 2019, which she said has helped her realise her sporting and academic aspirations.

“If I had any competing deadlines with assessments or exams, the REAP staff would help me explain my unique situation to lecturers,” she said.

“The precarity of whether the Olympics would go ahead was a big mental challenge and there were a lot of ups, downs, and readjustments.

“I had to put my mind into relaxation mode and having University there was a welcome distraction.

“I’m a massive foodie, so It has been great applying what I’m learning into my sport by working out what foods will be good for me before and after competition.

“Whenever I am touring for competitions, I love eating and experiencing all the different cultures. In Tokyo though, it will be pretty plain and simple: chicken, rice and vegetables.”

At RMIT, the 'T' stands for taekwondo

In a cool coincidence, Hymer isn’t the only one from the RMIT community to compete at the Olympics for Taekwondo.

Recent PhD graduate and sessional lecturer Lauren Burns OAM won an Olympic Gold Medal in taekwondo at the 2000 Sydney Olympics – the first and only Australian to win gold in the sport.

Her research looked at the importance of wholistic support networks and interpersonal relationships in contributing to sporting success.

Lauren Burns OAM headshot Lauren Burns OAM, a sessional lecturer in the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, won Australia's first Olympic gold medal in taekwondo at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Burns said her research was inspired by her experiences as an athlete where she was juggling work, study, and competitions.

“Back when I was competing, educating athletes to have something outside of their sport, such as study, work or hobbies, was not as established as it is now," Burns said.

"I was fortunate enough to have a scholarship with the Victorian Institute of Sport who taught me the value of studying whilst training and competing.

“We know this helps athletes with their mental health, as athletes can tend to have a myopic focus and become totally absorbed in their sport.

“It makes a huge impact having institutions, such as RMIT, support you to have success in both sport and life.”

Burns trained with Hymer’s current coach, Olympian Ryan Carneli, and has had a small involvement with Hymer through the AIS.

“I wish Stacey all the best. I know she’s incredibly dedicated and has been training hard to get to this point,” Burns said.

“The Olympics are the best environments and although this year will be unique, it will be such an amazing experience. Good luck!”

Stacey Hymer’s first round on Sunday 25 July at 2:44 pm AEST. All the best Stacey!


Story: Caleb Scanlon

14 July 2021


14 July 2021


  • Science and technology
  • Sport
  • Student experience

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