Talk to Jemima Montag — she won gold for Australia in the 20 km walk on home soil at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane — for ten minutes and you will get that she has the “it factors” you would expect in a champion athlete: Confidence, perseverance, adaptability, curiosity, and a heaping helping of competitiveness. These traits and more have also helped her become a powerful advocate in the fight to turn food deserts into healthy oases in her home state of Victoria.
“Unfortunately, the industrialization of agriculture has created a food system which favors the profits of a select few and undermines human health and environmental sustainability,” Montag shared. “I believe that fixing our broken food system is critical. Do that and we would begin to address the double burden of disease — malnourishment in the form of obesity and undernutrition, reduce global inequalities in health and wealth, we could support a thriving Earth…things could be beautiful. Critics say, ‘but this is the way we’ve always done it’, but that’s the most dangerous line I’ve heard. Reshaping the food system for public health and climate change is our only option. We’ve got to at least try.”
Montag is doing more than simply trying; she is walking the climate walk by joining EcoAthletes as its newest Champion. The Melbourne native was inspired to join when she heard an interview of EcoAthletes founder Lew Blaustein by Australian National Field Hockey Team member —and fellow EcoAthletes Champion — Lily Brazel on the latter’s State of Us podcast.
“EcoAthletes’ natural marriage of sportspeople with eco-advocacy and action just makes sense to me,” related Montag. “I was so relieved to have stumbled upon it – an ‘uh-huh’ moment – my footsteps now have greater meaning. As elite athletes, we strive to be ‘faster, stronger, higher’, but sometimes this feels like a selfish pursuit. I want my footsteps to mean something beyond times and medals and rankings.”
“Jemima is already making a positive impact in the access-to-healthy- food and climate change movements in Australia,” Blaustein said. “We can’t wait to work with her to expand the reach and power of her message to a broader audience, which will help to spark a #climatecomeback.”
Montag is ready to do just that.
“I would love to connect with like-minded individuals and learn how to use my voice and actions in the change-making space,” responded Montag when asked what a successful involvement with EcoAthletes would look like. “Success would also mean that I would have the necessary skills to speak up, empower others to act and continue the eco-sporting-movement in Australia.”
You can follow Jemima Montag on Instagram
Photo at top: Jemima Montag wins gold in the 20 km walk at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia (Photo credit: Terry Swan)