The second Mudgee Guardian People of the Year list aims to recognise the most influential, impactful and notable people in the region in 2020. Their impact could be positive, negative or somewhere in the middle, but one thing is certain, they made a difference.
It has been a massive year for Gulgong's Table Tennis player Michelle Bromley in 2020. While she has represented Australia at numerous World Cups, World Championships and most recently the Commonwealth games, the Olympics is that one event which has eluded her since she first trialled for the 2004 Athens Olympics at the age of 16.
While she was missing out on both Commonwealth Games and Olympics throughout her 20s, she was training relentlessly and at each event, putting more and more pressure on the top Australian women, many of which were born and trained in China before moving to Australia to play for the national team.
Finally in 2018, after considering retirement, Michelle gave the Comm Games one last crack and amazingly got her first major career breakthrough in taking the 5th spot in the Australian team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It was this result which gave her the encouragement to train full-time for another two years for that missing piece of an already impressive career - the Olympics.
In January, at the age of 32 Michelle went into the Olympic qualifying tournament in Melbourne as the number five seed. The difference to the Comm Games however is that only three women are taken to the Olympics - as opposed to five - so it was an extremely tall order, especially when three of the other women trialling had already represented Australia at one or multiple Olympics.
The hard work paid off and not only did Michelle make the Olympics, she finished in the number one position at the qualification tournament, beating Australia's number one and five-time Olympian Jian Feng Lai in the last match of the event. An amazing result which couldn't go to a harder worker.
Not many people could miss out four times and find the drive to keep training day in day out in a sport which doesn't pay, but her friends and family are sure glad she stuck with it and will finally tick off this lifelong dream in July 2021. Now we just need Tokyo to actually go ahead so we can see her in action.
More on Michelle: