Injuries shortly before three Olympic Games may have prevented two time world hurdling champion Jana Pittman realising her dreams of Olympic gold.
But she never gave up and is now on the cusp of achieving another dream she had as a child.
Pittman is on track to realise an ambition to help women who have been wanting to experience the joys of motherhood but have not been able to because of cervical cancer.
The four time Commonwealth Games gold medalist's journey was described as one of triumph, defeat, failure and ultimately success when she was introduced at the annual Illawarra Women In Business conference day on Thursday by ANZ Bank's head of small business banking Carmella Galasso.
Olympic gold may have eluded her but she was applauded as a true champion by everyone at IWIB who appreciated her story of resilience and determination.
Pittman said it was her first live speaking engagement since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be the last for a little while with the birth of her fourth child due in three weeks.
She found out she was pregnant on the first day of filming for SAS Australia and had to pull out. But can relate with the philosophy of the TV show that you can't overcome fear, you have to learn to live with it.
As an intern in obstetrics and gynecology at Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital her transition from athlete to doctor is almost complete.
But she started her Dare To Dream, Accepting the Fear and Finding Resilience talk by reflecting on how Usain Bolt after finishing 12th in the 2007 World Championships was asked what he thought he would achieve in his career and said "I am going to be the greatest 100m runner the world has ever seen". He went on to win 12 Olympic gold medals.
On the next point Pittman spoke of the fear she felt and how she froze the first time she had the opportunity to run against her athletic hero Cathy Freeman in 1999.
And how the lesson she learnt from that was "the only person who can stop you is you".
On the subject of resilience she said while she won nine titles for Australia she did not win the one she wanted most because in every Olympic Games she competed in she was injured..
"As a young kid in athletics all you dream about is winning a gold medal," she said.
"But it is the one dream that eluded me no matter how hard I tried."
Pittman was the World Champion and had not lost a race in 13 months when she ruptured her knee two weeks before the Athens Olympics.
Then seven months after having her first baby she won the World Championships in Osaka and thought she was on track for Olympic gold when she did her achilles.
She said behind closed doors she started struggling with eating disorders and depression when a toe injury impacted her attempt to win gold at the 2012 Olympics.
Within 12 months she realised depression is something that touches everyone, changed her perspective and said to herself "it is okay to feel sad" and "it is okay to accept some days will not go well".
It was rround that time that Pittman realised she still had a big dream from her childhood that she wanted to achieve. A dream that involved helping others.
"All my life all I ever wanted to be was a doctor," she said.
Pittman knew she needed to have believe she could do it and not be afraid of failure.
Which is what happened on her first attempt to pass the test to get into medical school.
But she but didn't give up, tried again the following year, got in and went on to be dux in her year at university and medical school by working hard and giving it everything she had.
Pittman said her next big goal is a surgical dream that is greater than anything she did in athletics.
For women who have had cervical cancer and but still want to have children she wants to be involved in a new procedure that will allow them to receive a uterus transplant.
The first in the world was recently done in Sweden and ethics approval was given in Australia.
"I look at that and think the greatest thing I am ever going to achieve in my life is if I get to give life to someone who thought they were not going to be able to have a baby," she said.
Pittman said it was also wonderful that the IWIB Conference Day at Villa D'Oro on Thursday raised funds for Rare Ovarian Cancer research.
- Thirroul author writes about how women can break the gender code and stereotypes to reshape their lives
- Men's mental health a focus for Illawarra's top business
- Luke Rollinson and team MMJ top fundraisers at Endure For A Cure
- One in five will be diagnosed with a mental health issue during 2020
- Mama Base Illawarra, holistic parenting centre, opens in Wollongong
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.