Skating world championships for RCS student

image - Skating world championships for RCS student

Isabel McTigue grew up in a small town in south-western Australia, but the world is now her oyster. She is currently studying a combined Medicine/Arts degree at UNSW, and soon she’ll be jetting off to the World Artistic Roller Skating Championships in Spain. It’s a great destination as her Arts major happens to be Spanish! Isabel took some time out from her busy life for this interview:

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Australind, a small rural town 200km south of Perth, with my mum and seven siblings.

How long have you been skating?

I started artistic roller skating at the age of 10. At age 15 I stopped competing to focus on school and getting into medicine, which is something I dreamed of from a very young age. But I’ve been skating again since 2012.

How did you first get into skating and why you are so passionate about it?

In 2002 my younger sister Annie and I watched the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic figure skating events on TV and loved it. There was no ice rink in the small town we grew up in, but there was a roller skating rink in Bunbury, about 20-minute drive from home.

We’d always loved roller blading, dancing and athletics, and artistic roller skating looked like the perfect combination of these. We started classes there on weekends and before we knew it we were at the rink six days a week.

I love the fact that skating is a high impact sport that combines fitness, strength and agility with grace and artistry.

Can you tell us about some of your skating successes?

I was 13 when I competed at my first National Championships, where I was also selected to represent Australia at the Oceania Championships. At 15 I won a gold medal at Nationals for the first time, and the same year I won silver at the Oceania Championships in New Zealand before stopping to focus on school. In 2012 I started training for the 2013 National Championships, where I won gold and silver.

I’ve just finished Nationals for this year, where I won gold and silver too. At nationals I was selected to represent Australia in inline figure skating at the 2014 World Artistic Roller Skating Championships in Spain, just outside Barcelona.  

This will be my first World Championships – I can’t explain how excited I am! Even better, I’m studying combined Medicine/Arts with Spanish as my Arts major, so the location really couldn’t be more perfect.

What inspired you to study medicine?

Growing up, my mum was a rural GP, so I saw first-hand the difference that she made to the lives of residents in the rural community where I grew up, and I was inspired to do the same. I see the practice of medicine as an art based on science, where the art of building rapport, engaging, and healing is combined with medical science using principles of holism to provide the best possible therapeutic care.

Would you be interested in practising medicine in the country at some point in the future?

I’m not sure exactly where I want to practice or what I want to specialise in, but I’m sure that I’ll practice medicine in a rural area. I’m lucky enough to be a recipient of a Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship, and am excited about the opportunities this will give me in the future.

How image - Skating world championships for RCS studentdoes studying at UNSW’s Rural Clinical School give you a deeper insight into rural and Indigenous healthcare issues?

UNSW’s Rural Clinical School has been there for me right from the start of my medicine degree, and I can’t thank them enough for their support of both my academic and extracurricular endeavours. Being part of the Rural Student Entry Scheme has further motivated me to be involved in rural, remote and Indigenous healthcare.

I’m honoured to be a scholar on the John Flynn Placement Program, which supports me in undertaking two-week long placements at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Geraldton – 500km north of Perth – throughout my degree. This opportunity has opened my eyes to the importance of rural healthcare in Australia, and also to some of the greatest challenges and rewards that come with it.

Can you tell us what your average day looks like?

Keeping busy keeps me happy! Sometimes it can be challenging balancing my degree with skating as well as part-time work, but I really enjoy having a well-balanced life. It’s also not without the supportive network of amazing people in my life that I have achieved what I have so far, so I have them all to thank!

I like to get up early at about 6am and start my day with a run or a skate. I feel great when I start uni at 9am: I know I have already achieved something!

Sometimes I have training after uni in the evening, so I fit my study in around that. When it comes to exam time, study takes priority, and I’m extremely lucky to have my supportive coach David who understands that my medical degree is just as important to me as skating.

What are your medical and sporting aspirations for the future?

This year I’ve achieved one of my lifetime goals, to be selected to represent our country at the World Championships. Being so close to my heart, skating is and will always play an important role in my life no matter where I end up.

I dream of practicing medicine in rural coastal town one day – I believe being involved in public health initiatives such as the promotion of sport is important for health practitioners, who should also strive to be community leaders and role models.