Olympic racewalker and Fawkner local, Rhydian Cowley, competed for Australia in Tokyo, where he finished 8th in the men’s 50 kilometres walk, and Rio.
But athletes in sports like Rhydian’s are facing tougher conditions. Training has been undertaken in masks for smoke haze and extreme heat is more regularly interrupting events, training and competitions.
“It is hard to avoid the increasing consequences of climate change these days,’ he says.
“After the Black Summer bushfires, I realised I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines and hope that other people were doing the right things,” he explains.
“I didn’t know if there were other sportspeople talking about climate change, but the more I’ve got involved, the more I realised there’s a community of people in Australia and around the world taking action on climate change.”
Action at home
Rhydian got involved locally with Climate Action Moreland and Fawkner Food Bowls.
Last year he installed solar panels on his house and he’s in the process of replacing his gas stove with an induction cooktop. When it’s time to upgrade his car, he’ll go electric.
Sports as part of the solution
He also became an ambassador for Sports Environment Alliance and Eco Athletes.
“Sports is a really good platform to communicate about climate action,” says Rhydian.
“Not only can we talk about how to reduce our individual impact through reducing and then offsetting travel miles, but we can have a say on who sponsors our events – and hope that they won’t be fossil fuel companies who actively contribute to climate change.”
He is inspired by Pat Cummins’ recent launch of Cricket for Climate, aiming to support all cricket clubs across Australia to achieve net-zero emissions.
Rhydian would love to see his sport and all walking thrive into the future.
“Walking is the most accessible form of exercise and it’s zero emissions,” he says. “I love that anyone can enjoy it, it gets and keeps you active and it encourages you to connect with your environment.”
Read more about Rhydian on Eco Athletes.