Sarah Carli is calling on women with big dreams to follow in her footsteps and apply for an International Women's Day Illawarra scholarship.
Carli was awarded the Kerryn McCann IWD Scholarship (sport) for women in 2020 and said the community support was a welcome boost on her journey to Tokyo to compete in the 400-metre hurdles event this year.
The 27-year-old said it was important for women to embrace all opportunities to expand their skills and create an environment for them to have the best opportunity to succeed.
"When I was awarded the scholarship in March last year we were a month out from the Olympic trials and it was great to know I had so much community support behind me," she said.
"Financially every little bit helps too so having the immediate funds to cover some of the costs of travelling to competitions was so helpful.
"I'm calling on women of all ages and walks of life with dreams for the future to look at the different awards and apply for the one that suits you - you have nothing to lose."
The annual IWD fundraising luncheon will be held at WIN Entertainment Centre on Friday, March 4 2022 and the theme will be #breakthebias.
There are seven individual scholarships worth $2000 on offer ranging across a variety of categories from sport to creative arts and Indigenous women.
The awards are named in honour of inspirational Illawarra women who are no longer alive but left their mark on the region in the fields in which they excelled.
IWD chair Vicki Tiegs said the scholarship program was designed to help affray some of the costs that may act as an impediment to women following their dreams.
"Whilst they aren't huge amounts we know that it makes a difference because we have received great feedback from previous recipients," she said.
"We were thrilled to see Sarah go to the Olympics and represent Australia because we'd been a little part of her very big journey.
"Every year we receive nominations from inspiring young women who all have something they want to achieve whether that's in sport, business, education or creative arts.
"So don't underestimate yourself, be brave, and nominate."
To apply go to http://iwdillawarra.com.au/scholarships