No matter how high the praise for her footballing exploits, Kiara Bowers likes to keep her feet on the ground.
But it was especially hard for Bowers to keep a lid on her emotions when she was announced as a joint winner of the Herb Elliott Medal for the ‘Most Inspirational Performance by a WA Sportsperson’ at Monday’s WA Hall of Champions dinner.
The three-time All Australian and 2021 AFLW Fairest and Best winner was honoured alongside Olympic athlete Peter Bol, who captured the hearts of the nation when he qualified for the final of the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics.
She said it really hit home to be recognised outside of the football community.
“This one was pretty big and I didn’t actually realise it until I had a whole bunch of people message me and say how big it is,” Bowers said.
“I thought last night, rubbing shoulders with some of the people who were there, like (gymnast) Lauren Mitchell who was inducted (into the WA Hall of Champions), I definitely had imposter syndrome because I’ve just looked up to those people.
“To be able to be on the same pamphlet that they’re on, it’s pretty amazing and it will probably still take me a couple of weeks to sink in.
“There’s a lot of girls that have said ‘I’m happy that you’re getting the recognition after all the hard years of work’ – I’ve had a lot of awards and I’m very thankful for them, but this one recognises sports people outside of footy and that’s a really big thing.
“I’ve been lucky in footy to win some awards but this one is recognised by the entire sporting community and that’s pretty amazing.”
Bowers said she was honoured to share the award with Bol, saying she related to his down to earth nature and work ethic.
“He was probably the nicest person I met on the night. He was so lovely and so charismatic,” Bowers said.
“He was just like anyone else and I think that’s what we have to remember, he’s just a dedicated athlete who works hard to get where he is. He’s just happy that he can inspire girls and boys and it’s really cool that I can do that as well.”
Bowers celebrated the evening on a table with teammates Kara Antonio and Hayley Miller, coaches Lisa Webb and Amy Lavell and High Performance Manager Kate Starre, who was inducted into the WA Hall of Champions in 2008.
Bowers said the night was a reminder of Starre’s significant achievements in Hockey, highlighted by two Olympic gold medals in Atlanta and Sydney.
“I actually got a little bit of insight into Kate last night, realising how well respected she is and how many people came over to her and how incredible she is, she’s on the pamphlet, she’s the star of the night pretty much,” Bowers said.
“I think we take that for grated a little bit, as we are so incredibly lucky that she even takes 10 minutes out of her time, let alone all the hours that she puts in for us.
“I’m very lucky to call her not just my strength and conditioning coach, but a good friend.”