Chris Morgan takes Giant Steps and small leaps for Autism Awareness Month

Young Aussies stamp their boarding passes for Tokyo 2020
Chris Morgan (rear) at the Australian Rowing Championships in 2012. Photo: Australian Olympic Committee

Triple Olympian Chris Morgan has spent Autism Awareness Month working with Olympics Unleashed to bring excitement to autistic students in Australia.

Morgan was diagnosed with autism at 28-years-old, after his first Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

He went on to take home the bronze medal for rowing at London 2012, and competed at Rio 2016.

While he won’t be one of the athletes heading to Tokyo 2020, his work as a leader in Australian sport and a figure for so many on the autistic spectrum is only beginning to come into its own.

As part of Olympics Unleashed, Morgan has been inspiring students at Giant Steps and St Lucy’s, both schools that support students who are on the autism spectrum.

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll congratulated Morgan on using the Olympics Unleashed program to raise awareness during Autism Awareness Month.

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“During this month, it has been great to see athletes like Chris work to inspire autistic students via the Olympics Unleashed program, encouraging these students to get involved in sport and experience the many benefits it can bring to their lives,” Carroll said.

“Sport plays a role to open our minds and help us to learn about others, including those on the autism spectrum.”

Morgan has long attributed his diagnosis and his autism to his success at the Olympic level, citing his obsessive drive and ability to perceive his performance as a key factor in his success.

“I tended to focus on some of the more technical aspects of the sport and the communication that did not always come across in the way it was intended,” Morgan said.

He remarked that the diagnosis helped him to understand his condition, and to become more accepting of his unique attributes, noting that it also helped his teammates to become more accepting and supportive.

“It wasn’t until I got a diagnosis that we could work together effectively and use my different way of thinking, it was at this time that I had the clarity and support to really thrive and contribute more,” Morgan continued.

“Through presenting to children within the Olympics Unleashed program, the one thing that I reinforce with them is the idea that they ‘don’t write off the possibilities’.

“I learned throughout my career not to put limits on my belief of what I can achieve, and I felt that this is as true for people on the spectrum as it is for all of us.”

As part of the program, Morgan has been working with students at St Lucy’s and Giant Steps, teaching them how to use a rowing machine, and encouraging them to get involved in sport.

Claire Cherrington, Head of Secondary School at Giant Steps Sydney was glowing in her praise for Morgan’s work.

“The students loved the messages [Morgan gave] of overcoming adversity, and the value of hard work and believing in themselves,” Cherrington said.

“They also especially enjoyed being taught by Chris how to use a rowing machine, and the once in a lifetime chance to wear an Olympic medal.”

Autism affects on average one in every 150 Australians, and the work that Morgan does during Autism Awareness Month is invaluable, using his profile as an Olympian as an example to so many.

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About Daniel Coppel 166 Articles
Daniel is a lawyer by trade. He covers netball and Olympics/Paralympics for The Inner Sanctum from Sydney. He has a particular focus on empowerment of sporting leaders off-field, and highlighting off-field contributions of athletes. He also appears on podcasts for a variety of sports.

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