secret in sport
ROY MASTERS, Sydney Morning Herald
16 March, 2005
Carter has endured more than her fair share of setbacks
but keeps bouncing back.
former Olympic coach describes her as "the Lleyton Hewitt
of her sport", and while she's never been No.1 in the world,
she has endured enough heartbreak to test the most legendary
may also be the best-kept secret in Australian sport, having
set a world mark never previously reached by any athlete
in her discipline.
Joanne Carter, 24, flew to Moscow last week to compete in
the world figure skating championships, having earned her
entry via a fourth place at the Four Continents tournament
in South Korea last month.
result is the best - male or female, dance or figure, individual
or pair - by an Australian at what is effectively the tournament
for the other half of the figure skating world that doesn't
attend the European championships.
Carter, Joanne's father, received a heart transplant in
1994 and was told to expect 10 years. It was ticking down
in July 2003 when Joanne received bad news via telephone
from her mother, Carol, while training in Canada.
told mum, 'I'm booking a flight home tomorrow'," she recalls.
Three weeks later, he "passed", as she says.
was my hero in every aspect of my life. I knew dad would
want me to finish my dream of a second Olympics. My 'L-plate'
Olympics were expected to be Nagano when I was 17, coming
out of my Higher School Certificate year, and my 'P-plate'
Olympics were to be Salt Lake City four years later in 2002."
Two things happened. Nagano turned out better - her 12th
place was the best Olympic result by an Australian figure
skater. And Salt Lake City didn't happen.
started after Nagano," she says of the tendonitis in her
right patella, a condition called "jumper's knee", which
afflicts basketballers but rarely figure skaters. Former
Swans star Paul Kelly is one of the few athletes to have
returned successfully from an operation for it.
physio told me to rest but I thought I was a quick healer
and tried to skate through it," she says. "The physio warned
it wasn't an injury to play with. I should have got it fixed.
In hindsight, I should have listened.
finally had an operation in April '99 and was very optimistic
I'd be back in 12 months but in actual fact it took five
also split with her long-term coach, a Russian named Andrei
wasn't back in training until 2001 and it was still very
sore. The operation didn't fix the problem. Emotionally,
as well as physically, I wasn't in good shape.
and I are the same personality. I'm one to keep training
while still standing and he's of the same bent. He was as
driven and motivated and ambitious as me.
all OK if things are going well but when there's a spoke
in the wheel, it's not. We were clashing too much and bad
for each other. It was going nowhere. He moved to New York
year later her father died, and as she says: "I'd finished
my degree and thought I'd get a job and call it quits.
sport had cost so much that my parents often said they were
lucky they only had one child. But I knew dad would agree
I had unfinished business."
in the same Castle Hill suburb was Pachin's wife, Galin,
who had remained in Sydney. "She had known me so long,"
Carter says, explaining why she approached the 40-year-old
coach. "She knew how to motivate, push me. We clicked."
spiral sequence in Korea was only the third time it has
been performed this year, with 2002 Olympic silver medallist,
Russia's Irina Slutskaya, and fourth-placed Sacha Cohen
of the US also executing it.
qualifying round in Moscow begins today and, should she
finish in the first 24, she is guaranteed a place at next
year's Turin Winter Olympics.
her career the cupid-faced Carter has consciously rejected
what she calls the "airy-fairy" side of her sport, preferring
to score points by power and speed. But recently she has
been hearing the music within.
dad's passed, he's been with me," she says. "I feel calmer,
in control. I feel he's definitely watching me. I say, 'Come
on dad, fly with me'."