"Running - it is not about the destination; it is about the journey. Often with running you are the only person. You are competing against yourself, so you run for yourself and no-one else. Running comes in all distances and speeds, and I was fortunate enough to fall in love with sprinting.
My name is Tjimari Sanderson-Milera, and I am a proud Aboriginal man from South Australia. My Aboriginal language groups are Kokatha (West Coast of SA), Narungga (Yorke Peninsula), and Kaurna (Adelaide Plains). I also have strong family connections to Adnyamathanha (Flinders Ranges). Growing up I have always been connected to my culture, whether that be growing up and spending time on country, being a part of traditional dance, or through Aboriginal art. These 3 key things from my culture, along with my family, are what gave me an identity and help keep me grounded throughout my life.
Today, I use these 3 key things that I grew up learning and use them in my own life. I now run an Aboriginal Educational business call ‘Kumarninthi’, a Kaurna word meaning ‘Becoming One’ and I I use this platform to educate and inspire. By teaching today’s youth about my rich culture, and my own personal struggles with racism, I hope to create awareness of Aboriginal culture to create a better world for Aboriginal people today.
Throughout my early years I tried a lot of sports but managed to only fall in love with one. That was running. It all started out on the beach and Grange Surf Club where I tried Surf Lifesaving and beach sprinting. I got the taste for speed and had no desire to back off from it. Over the years of sprinting on the beach and developing to become a track sprinter (100m- 400m), I transitioned into the Pro League & Amateur league. My hunger to get stronger and faster grew every year, chasing that adrenaline, chasing that faster time, trying to work harder each time to see how far I could push my body. In 2015 I took a big leap and moved interstate, away from family, and away from everything I knew, to live on the Gold Coast, where I trained under new coach Brett Robinson at Vikings Athletics. I faced many challenges, including finding employment, racism and adjusting to living on my own. But there were also great moments of growth and experience, and it was here, that yet again, I pushed my body to the absolute limits in order to chase that faster time, and to chase that dream.
While I always had a dream of going to the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics, the main goal was to inspire young Aboriginal kids. Inspire them to take a leap, take risks, and try something new that does not fit within the typical stereotypes of ‘Aboriginal people only play football’ or ‘Aboriginal people are only good at football’.
I want our youth to be confident and proud with strong cultural identity. I want them to see it's okay to try new things, to move away from home and give something a go, no matter how challenging it may be.
It takes a lot of hard work but for dreams to come true you need determination, dedication, and self-discipline. The challenges that I overcame are what helped me to be the person that I am now. If myself, as a young Aboriginal man at the time, could make these decisions and tackle these challenges to get where I am today, then any young Aboriginal person can break out of the cycle of social and institutional disadvantage."
You can follow Tjimari on Instagram here.