October 30, 2023
With her older sister reluctantly training at an ice skating rink during the off-season of field hockey, a 3-year-old Monique Lawrence was eager to pull on a pair of tiny skates and hit the rink the moment she saw it. 15 years later, Monique has hardly left the ice.
Over the past 15 years, Monique Lawrence has fervently pursued her passion for figure skating, striving for each goal she sets with perseverance. Without question, 2019 was the biggest year yet for the Canberra-based figure skater. In addition to competing in Singapore for the country’s National Figure Skating Championships, the vivacious 17-year-old impressively juggled, “Year 12, training six days a week and working a part-time job – it was quite crazy!” she stresses with a smile.
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The decision of how much, and what, to take on was deftly made by Monique. With training continuous throughout the year, the skater, faithful to her love of the cold, has worked at the local gelateria for the past five years. Then, at the request of a school friend, she added to her already busy schedule by joining her school’s dance troupe. Despite such a crowded calendar, Monique soon realised that her years of commitment to a rigid timetable of training, school and study had resulted in the development of strong time management skills, setting her up for life outside of school.
“At first I thought I’d struggle quite a lot,” she admits. “But I found that having a lot on my plate, I was very good at time management. It made it a lot better for me to do all my assessments because I had a deadline as I had to get to the rink and train.”
In March 2019, Monique’s participation in Singapore’s National Figure Skating Championship marked a significant moment in her figure skating journey. The invitation from Singaporean figure skating coach Christina Sim had been extended in preceding years, but unfortunately, Monique was unable to accept it due to financing restrictions.
Usually, there’s no prize money involved in competitions and funding depends on which competitions you compete in. Ice Skating Australia will fund some competitions if they send you or it’s included on their official list of competitions.”
As Singapore’s National Figure Skating Championships are not an ISA-sanctioned event, Monique was required to fully finance the costs of travelling to and taking part in the competition. The determined skater also sought permission from Ice Skating Australia to participate.
Once permission was granted, Monique and her mother Alison approached the Australian Sports Foundation to activate a fundraising campaign with the hopes of raising nearly $3,000 to cover flights, accommodation and entry to the competition. Donations principally came from local businesses, who found it a fantastic means of giving back to the community, with a number of which already wishing to sponsor individuals in the ACT sporting community.
Proudly for Monique, her family and her coach, she was able to raise enough money to compete in Singapore and, to her delight, she placed 1st overall in the Advanced Novice Ladies division she competed in.
THE RESULTS ARE IN
“It was such an exciting experience for me because it was in a different country, it was an international competition and it was really special to actually place!” she enthuses. “I was super proud and so surprised. I didn’t realise that I’d done so well!
It was an amazing thing to just see myself get that far. I found that experience was so helpful in growing as an ice skater…before then, I thought that I wasn’t doing so well in my skating and that actually gave me a boost to continue to skate,” she admits. While many see competitions as an opportunity to try and gain a place on a podium, Monique’s experience proves how rewarding competitions can be beyond the dais. By boosting a sportsperson’s confidence and providing invaluable feedback, competitions can be key in giving one the encouragement to persist with their pursuits in the sport of their choice.”
to help her win first place at Singapore's National Figure Skating Championships.
The flow on effect from this is substantial, as Monique details. “We have such a big adult community in Canberra now because so many adults have started skating. It’s amazing because we want more adult skaters so that more adult competitions can take place and we then have a bigger community and more people in our sport, which means it’s seen more.”
“Our community is a wide range of ages and abilities, [including] people who have started skating later in their lives because they want to pick up a hobby or just want to get fit,” she continues.
“We also have people who have intellectual disabilities skating, such as Down syndrome, and I find that it’s an amazing experience for them because that allows them to have an outlet which gives them freedom and individuality in their own lives – they can join our community and have more people to talk to.”
“I think that everyone deserves to have the opportunity to try out a sport, no matter if they’re just starting out or if they want to try something new. Why not have a go?”