The launch commenced with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony performed by Eric Edwards an Elder from the Bunurong Land Council, with past VIS scholarship holder Kyle Vander-Kuyp and Melbourne Vixens netballer Gabby Coffey in attendance . Over 80 staff members and athletes joined in the opening and participated in the ritual smoking ceremony, so important in the spirit of reconciliation and in the year of the Voice referendum.
The facility upgrade was officially opened by VIS CEO, Anne Marie Harrison, who thanked the staff members who led the building project.
Harrison was excited to see the team return to the world class facility and to provide them with the setup that will propel VIS’ athletes to continue to perform on the biggest stage.
“The facility upgrade comes at an important time for Victorian athletes in the lead up to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games,” Harrison said.
The upgrade includes a new gym, state-of-the-art medical facilities, including a dedicated recovery room, an expanded kitchen space to host our nutrition programs, as well as a new athlete lounge proudly displaying our Katie Bugden commissioned indigenous artwork, flexible meeting spaces and office workstations.
Image: South Melbourne Park Primary School students helped open the upgraded facility.
At the launch three VIS athletes spoke about how the Institute has been influential in their careers. World-leading Para-cyclist Emily Petricola spoke about how the facilities at VIS will help athletes continue to live up their potential.
“From the new gym set up through to athlete lounge and medical suites - it will all aid not only the progression of training, but also helps place a greater emphasis on recovery for the athletes as well,” Petricola said.
“I couldn’t ever have achieved what I have without the people working within the VIS. Harry Brennan, Shane Kelly and Andrew Fooks have been integral in my development and I can’t wait until Paris 2024 to try to defend my gold medal”.
Australian Opal, Kristy Wallace chimed in with her story of how the VIS has supported her remarkable return to the sport after serious injury.
Year 12 student and table tennis future star, Nicholas Lum spoke about how the upgraded athlete study area will help him balance school and sport.
Lum was the second youngest table tennis player ever to represent Australia at a Commonwealth Games when he donned the green and gold at the 2022 Birmingham Games.