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HBWN: Lisa Curry draws record crowd to IWD 2024 event


When she left the stage after an hour of inspiring the Hunter Business Women’s Network crowd at NEX on Wednesday evening, Lisa Curry could easily have been mistaken for one of the many mingling mums in attendance, such is her appeal. 

The former athlete was guest speaker at the group’s 2024 International Women’s Day (IWD) event, her “star appeal” attracting more than 300 attendees, the largest in HBWN’s 29-year history. 

While Lisa shared the challenges and successes of her illustrious 23-year career, she also impressed the Newcastle audience with her warmth and relatability, that is despite none of us having achieved her impressive list of accomplishments. 

Lisa Curry (formerly Lisa Curry-Kenny) competed in three Olympic Games, two World Championships and three Commonwealth Games. 

Her competitive swimming journey spanned more than two decades and saw her ranked in the top 25 swimmers in the world every year she competed. 

She also held Australian records in almost every stroke – something no other Australian swimmer has achieved. 

Lisa was also the first swimmer to represent Australia at Commonwealth and Olympic Games as a mother. 

Her sporting achievements didn’t finish there either.

After retiring from the pool, Lisa found success winning four World Championships in the 72km Outrigger Canoe Race in Hawaii – a member of the first Australian team to win in the race’s history. 

She also became the first Australian to win the Hawaiin Molokai to Oahu 66km solo outrigger race. 

And, it all began when Lisa Curry’s first swimming coach told her parents when she was just 10-years-old that she was going to be Australia’s fastest freestyle swimmer.

Lisa Curry-Kenny

Determined, competitive, dogged – they’re all words that could easily describe the former swimmer, but, as the evening progressed, the Queenslander also offered a glimpse at a softer side. 

Sharing the years of discipline involved in a hefty sporting career, she also shared the heartache of losing a child. 

Lisa has a unique way of balancing her vulnerability and determination, allowing both to feed an inner strength, perhaps the key to her many successes. 

At every hardship, the 61-year-old appears to have wholeheartedly risen to the occasion. 

And, it’s this “rise up” attitude that she shared with her audience.

Lisa Curry-Kenny

“One of my favourite quotes is this, you can’t lower the volleyball net so that everyone can play in the world of high pressure competition or business,” Lisa said.

“Only the strong survive.

“Go where expectations are high and push yourself. Find people who are better than you and see what they’re doing, listen to them, and then aspire to be like that or better than that.

“You can’t lower the volleyball net so everyone can play.”

“When you make your goals, make a distinction between being interested and committed to your goals because when you’re interested in doing something you’ll only do when it’s convenient, but when you are committed to doing something, you’ll always do it no matter what.” 

Lisa’s favourite motto is: “Throw me to the wolves, and I will return leading the pack.” (Julius Ceasar)

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