About 10 years ago, Loudy Wiggins was celebrating double gold at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
The then 26-year-old Loudy Tourky had performed the dive of the competition to charge past teammate Chantelle Newbery on her last attempt from the nerve-wracking 10-metre platform.
The young diver had won bronze at the Sydney Olympics six years earlier, in 10-metre synchronised diving, and bronze in Athens in the individual 10-metre platform in 2004 .
She would go on to compete in the London Olympics, aged 33, the oldest diver in the field and about 17 years after her first Olympic appearance as a 16-year-old – the youngest diver selected on an Australian Olympic team – at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Looking back on the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Loudy says it was adrenalin that helped her out-dive her competitors.
“I was injured going into the games, and it looked like I wasn’t going to compete, but I was pretty headstrong and perhaps a little delusional back then,” she says.
“I had three torn ligaments and bone bruising in my ankle just 17 days before the competition. But I managed to get through on adrenalin, which took away the pain, and to come away with two gold medals was a whirlwind experience, an amazing one.”
At the time, Loudy was living at Taylors Lakes with her partner and now husband Simon Wiggins, a former Carlton Football Club player.
After her hometown podium finishes, she took a 14-month sabbatical from the sport before returning to chase selection for the Beijing Olympics.
She was ruled out at the 11th hour due to a calf muscle injury, sustained at the Olympic selection trials in Hobart just four months out from the games.
A devastated Loudy retired from the sport and began work in advertising for Fairfax. It was while on maternity leave with her first child, Layla, then seven months old, that Loudy found herself back on the platform with a fourth Olympic appearance in sight.
Despite three years in retirement, Loudy made the Australian Olympic diving team for a fourth time and went to London, where she narrowly missed a medal in the 10-metre synchronised event with partner Rachel Bugg. The pair finished fourth.
That’s when she retired a second time, not because she couldn’t keep going, she says, but for her young family.
“It’s different to be a working mother because I frequently had to travel [to compete]. It becomes a sacrifice and I didn’t want to sacrifice that time with my daughter. If you’re pushing 29 in diving, you’re considered a veteran,” she says.
“It’s really hard on the body; you don’t make a lot of money and you study at the same time [Loudy completed a Bachelor of Arts (media and communications) at The University of Sydney].”
After officially retiring in 2012, she started a personal training and fitness business called Loudy Wiggins Fitness at Moonee Ponds, near where the family now lives.
“A lot of athletes think that sport is the best thing they’ve ever achieved,” Loudy says.
“But I feel like I’ve reinvented myself. When an athlete retires from sport, there’s a void, and running a business has filled that for me.”
But she admits to missing the adrenaline rush of being a professional athlete.
“Jumping off a three-storey building gives you a serious adrenaline rush – I miss that.”
Now Loudy divides her time between looking after Layla, 5, and Alexander, 2, training her own clients from the Victorian Institute of Sport, where she’s a diving program manager, and sitting on the Australian Olympic Committee Athletes Commission.
And while you won’t see her on the diving board at this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, she’ll be analysing from the sidelines as part of Channel 7’s commentary team.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, she’s toying with the idea of competing in an upcoming Pan Pacific Masters Games.