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3 May 2024

Game changing partnership initiative a golden opportunity for Olympic stars

A revolutionary new program designed to disrupt outdated partnership and ambassador models between athletes and businesses has launched nationally, providing new opportunities for the 46 per cent of elite athletes living on less than $23,000 a year.

project32™’s mission is to invest in tomorrow’s champions today by partnering up and coming elite athletes with organisations in a first-of-its-kind program.   

The offering goes beyond significant funding for athletes, placing their development and trajectory in life after sport at the heart of the program. project32 athlete’s will gain access to professional and personal development, career opportunities and mentorship to learn from the best, supporting Australian athletes now and for the future whilst they chase their Olympic dream.  

Bastion Experience, led by the Queensland Maroons ex-CEO Rohan Sawyer, and Peak Impact, founded by Olympic gold medallist Duncan Armstrong, have partnered to create an initiative that supports athletes during and after their sporting careers. project32™ supports the development of skills to excel outside their chosen discipline.  

The initiative aligns corporations with emerging talent to serve as internal ambassadors, delivering significant non-transactional benefits to the businesses, such as staff and stakeholder engagement.  

Olympian Abbey Harkin is the first of an expected raft of athletes who will benefit from project32™

The 25-year-old swimmer faces the daily reality of Olympic ambitions - maintaining an intensive training schedule, studying at Griffith University and working a part-time job at a local sports store in Woolloongabba, Brisbane. She said it was a struggle, but project32™ was critical in helping support her sporting goals through the financial and career development opportunities available. 

“Often the perception of an Olympic athlete is that they get everything given to them, but unfortunately for those coming up through the ranks, there is very minimal funding and support,” said Harkin. 

"Currently, there is only about one per cent of elite athletes who benefit from widespread recognition and sponsorship”.  

A 2023 survey by the Australian Sports Foundation (ASF), the nation’s leading non-profit sport fundraising body, found that 46 per cent of elite competitors were living on less than $23,000 a year, and that two in five elite athletes aged 18 to 35 were suffering with poor mental health as a result. 

The program’s projected intake level is set to deliver over $7m in athlete development support by 2032.  

Olympic swimmer and 1988 gold medallist Duncan Armstrong said project32™ was about creating sustainable careers in the quest for gold. 

“Olympic dreams come with great risk, with post-sport careers and lack of financial independence often the price paid for a chance at sporting glory,” he said. 

“We need to build pathways for our athletes to succeed irrespective of Olympic medals, teaching them skills for life after sport while supporting them to gain an income during their training. 

Project32™ combines these elements through mentorship and skills-building, as well as fostering corporate partnerships to provide financial stability in the drive towards gold. 

“The aim of the program is to improve the 'off-field' sustainability of an Olympic career, which should in-turn take some of the pressure off athletes so they can concentrate on their sporting goals.” 

Abbey Harkin has been provided mentoring and development resources through Peak Impact, including media training and skills-building in stagecraft, public speaking and corporate engagement that will be available over two years as part of the program. 

She has been partnered with Brisbane’s leading recruitment agency, u&u Recruitment Partners, where senior executives mentor her and will undertake the role of 'Chief Inspiration Officer’, providing staff with motivation and education on the skillset she has developed as an elite athlete through sharing her Olympic experience. 

“While I prepare for Paris 2024, I’ve been considering my post-Olympic career, and I'm interested in corporate business, so working with u&u gives me the opportunity to interact with people who can guide me in my next chapter and provide opportunities outside of swimming,” said Harkin. 

“It’s fantastic to have a program like project32™ that recognises what athletes are sacrificing, how that affects us mentally and financially, and provides solutions to help reach our short-term goals and improve our long-term prospects.” 

Armstrong said project32™ was launching now to ensure future Australian athletes were well-prepared to capitalise on the benefits of a ‘Home Games’. 

“The Olympic Games in 2032 is well and truly on the horizon and while businesses and property markets prepare to capitalise on the wealth of opportunities, our athletes often miss out on financially benefitting from the very event they make possible,” he said. 

project32™ is introducing corporates to athletes now so they can build a winning team well-before Brisbane 2032. 

“It’s a new way of thinking – preparing our athletes and the market in advance, instead of waiting for an Olympic gold medal to lure a sponsor and lucrative ambassador deals. 

“This new era in sport partnerships also provides incredible opportunities for businesses who can create early linkages with promising sportspeople and explore alternate ways to connect with their desired audiences.” 

Bastion Experience Queensland Managing Director Rohan Sawyer said project32™ would be a game-changer for athletes and an opportunity for dynamic corporations to invest in what has been traditionally a ‘one-sided’ formula where partnerships and ambassadorships are often fleeting and transactional once an athlete is at the top of their game.  

project32™ gives businesses access to a pool of talent eager to collaborate and embody their brand’s values, on and off the field,” he said. 

“With Brisbane 2032 on the horizon, there is no better time to invest in the future of Aussie athletes, becoming a great corporate citizen while riding a wave of success. 

“Having worked with professional athletes throughout my career and Duncan’s first-hand experience of life as an Olympian, we are positioned to change the future of athletes and set them up for a life after sport in Australia.” 

For more information about project32™ and how you can be a part of the program, visit  

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