Keanu Blunden has always had a passion for speed. He started competing in the inter-school ski and snowboard events when he was seven. He progressed to ice hockey and represented NSW in the State Championships in the under 11 category. Then he took up speed skating at 10 years old and is now a dedicated short track competitor.
Despite his need for speed, Keanu knows well that success is about more than this.
“Winning is not just about being the fastest skater, it’s about being strong and strategic,” Keanu said.
“You have to watch what’s happening and plan your moves on the track.”
Keanu has been on the National Short Track Team for the last three years. He recently represented Australia at the 2017 Asian Winter Games held in Sapporo, which was a career highlight for him.
With this season over, Keanu is now training in Korea for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. As he does in sport, Keanu takes a strategic approach to his studies. He’s just started a Bachelor of Sports Coaching and Administration at ACPE, where he is part of the Elite Athlete Program.
With an intense training program that demands a commitment of approximately seven hours a day, five and a half days a week, Keanu’s first priority is to achieve outstanding results so that he can represent his country at the Olympics. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for study.
“I study online and just try to keep making progress – even if it’s slowly,” Keanu said. “After the Olympics, I will pick up the pace.”
The study is important. Keanu’s dream career is to become the Australian national speed skating coach.
“I have lots of experience on the track but I also need the coaching and admin skills.”
Keanu chooses to live and train in Korea because the facilities are excellent and the level of coaching and skating is high.
“If I skate with faster athletes, I can improve my speed and technique. Our national team used to train in Melbourne but now athletes can train overseas. It gives us the best possible chance of getting experience against other international competitors.”
Keanu’s family has also taken a strategic approach to help Keanu and his younger brother pursue their speed skating careers. While their father lives in Seoul with them, their mother remains at home in Australia.
“It was difficult at first but we got used to it – now Seoul feels like another home,” Keanu said. “This is what we need to do to succeed.”