How Tammy Bryant skated into the record books

After taking up roller skating as a child in Broken Hill, Tammy Bryant went on to become the most successful female skater in Australian history. Now she is one of the latest inductees to the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame.

Feb 17, 2023, updated Feb 17, 2023
Tammy Bryant is a multiple national and world champion. Supplied images

Tammy Bryant is a multiple national and world champion. Supplied images

Tammy Bryant was around five years old when she put on her first pair of skates.

Her family had moved from Adelaide to Broken Hill via Coburn so her father could complete his mandatory three years of rural teaching.

It was in Broken Hill, which had a dedicated artistic roller skating club, where she was first introduced to the sport. But it wasn’t until she saw a competition while visiting family in Adelaide that she truly fell in love with it.

“So, we went to watch the competition, and yeah, I was just like, oh my gosh, I want to do that,” she said.

“We’d done a little bit of skating, just at general sessions and whatever, but watching the competition and seeing the other little girls out there and their fancy leotards with all the sequins and stuff!”

After moving to Gawler where her parents could fulfil their dream of owning horses, Bryant joined the club in the place that had inspired her. In 1985 she won her first national championship.

Her parent’s dedication to her passion was clear. They used all of their savings to pay for her training and equipment, as well as to send her to overseas competitions. They even gave up on their equestrian dreams and moved to suburban Adelaide so that she could be closer to the skating rink.

“We never really had all the things that other kids had, like the latest sneakers … but I just looked at it like I’m going to France this year, you know, or Italy … so it was a trade-off.”

Bryant is one of three women to be inducted into the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame this year. She said that she was surprised to receive the phone call telling her that she would be included on the prestigious list.

Bryant has also previously been recognised for her contribution to skating through her induction into the Skate Australia/Roller Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 1996, among other accolades.

The South Australian Sport Hall of Fame was created in 2010 to recognise South Australia’s most outstanding athletes.

Since then, 76 South Australian sportspeople have been inducted, with six – Donald Bradman, Bart Cummings, Barrie Robran, Victor Richardson, Gillian Rolton and Anna Meares – becoming legends.

Bryant said that she hopes to use her influence to advocate for the creation of a dedicated roller rink in Adelaide.

“Getting a dedicated roller rink here in Adelaide would be amazing,” she said.

“If we had an actual proper dedicated roller skating rink, I can only imagine what you could do with that, and just how much it would promote such a great, healthy active sport for everyone to do.”

Bryant’s last competition was in 2015, which she said was mainly for fun. Her last artistic roller skating competition was in 2000 at the World Championships in the United States, where she came seventh.

For most of her career, she competed mainly in her favourite style of artistic roller skating, which is similar to Olympic figure skating. Other types of roller skating competition include figures and dance.

Between 1990 and 2005, Bryant won eight international skating competitions, including the South Pacific Championships in 1990, the Oceania Championship in 1993 and 1995, the German Cup International in 1995, the World Games Invitational in 1997, and the World Championships in 1995, 2003, and 2005.

Bryant said that one of the highlights of her career has been travelling the world.

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“Some of the South American countries are really loud and quite exciting to go and compete there,” she said.

However, Bryant said the sport can be quite mentally straining when you’re out of form.

“All of a sudden you can go through a period where it’s just really hard to do that jump, and for no real reason,” she said.

“You’ve got to be mentally tough and just be able to push through … because most of our training is doing new jumps and stuff and you spend a lot of time falling over.”

Bryant also said that roller skating can be financially taxing as there is little money in the sport and equipment is expensive.

“You know, nowadays, it costs like over $2000 for a good competition set [of skates], and you pretty much go through them in a year as well,” she said.

Bryant has continued to be involved in the sport as a coach since hanging up her skates.

She said that having been a skater herself means that she is able to empathise with her students.

“You can talk a lot about how things feel and what they should be feeling when they’re doing stuff,” she said.

Bryant said anyone thinking of taking up roller skating should simply “give it a go!” because “skating really is for everyone”.

The latest inductees to the 2023 South Australian Sport Hall of Fame will be celebrated at a gala event at Adelaide Oval on March 3. Go here for tickets and more information.

InDaily is the media partner of the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame and will be publishing profiles of all the new inductees throughout February.

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