Olympic champion rower Kim Brennan nominated as woman of influence

Kim Brennan’s priorities have shifted from Olympic Games medals to raising her son, but she says Australia’s single-scull hopes are in safe hands as she makes the transition from rowing champion to motherhood.

The Rio Olympics gold-medal winner has been named as one of Australia’s 100 women of influence, with the finalists to attend an awards gala night on October 17.

Brennan, a respected lawyer, has been nominated for establishing a pilot program at Ernst and Young, which has placed 11 elite athletes into roles which also take into consideration their sporting commitments.

Brennan is also juggling her own life changes after giving birth to son Jude six weeks ago, giving her a new perspective on work, sport and life.

The 33-year-old is yet to make a formal decision about her rowing future, preferring to watch her heir apparent, Madeleine Edmunds make waves at the world championships in Bulgaria than ponder her own plans.

“Being a mum really changes your priorities and perspective. [Jude] is just the most amazing little thing in the world,” Brennan beamed.

“I would do absolutely anything for him. The thought that anything could get in the way of that, it’s pretty hard to comprehend. It changes what matters and what’s important.

“I just want to raise a beautiful little boy and I feel really supported in my workplace that it’s my priority. When [Jude] cracked his first smile … it’s just so beautiful. I wouldn’t want to do anything else right now.

“It’s actually really nice to watch [the world championships] and see the Australian team do so well. The big thing for me is seeing how well Maddie Edmunds has done, that’s been special.

“She’s been an up-and-comer for a number of years now and to see her racing in the single [scull] makes it easier for me not to be there.”

Brennan has been one of Australia’s most respected Olympic athletes for several years, working as part of the athletes’ commission and carrying the flag into the closing ceremony at the Rio Games.

She wants to continue being involved in sport if she decides to retire before the Tokyo Olympics as she weighs up when to make a call on a glittering career, which also included two world titles and an unbeaten record for two years.

But she is just as passionate about her life away from sport, working as a lawyer during the build-up to her gold-medal performance in 2016 and starting a program to help athletes, including Hockeyroos, rugby players and cricketers, get a foot in the door of the workforce.

“We’ve got a lot of elite athletes who are studying while competing, but when they finish studying they struggle to get into the workforce because they can’t work regular hours,” Brennan said.

“A big organisation like EY, which really values high-performing talent, we were trialling employing athletes into EY who would be working, but not on full-time contracts.

“It’s been pretty exciting and there’s a lot of room to expand and improve on it, because the athletes have come in and done so well.

“I felt so lucky while I was competing that my coach and rowing were really supportive of doing my work, but also my employers were supportive of my rowing.

“I was really lucky, it was a rare opportunity. And this is timely for EY because they’re thinking about flexibility to support work-life balance.”

The 100 women of influence finalists include Tracey Spicer, Naomi Simson, Rosie Batty and Susan Alberti. There were a record number of nominations across 10 categories this year.