Part One: Medhurst sparkles in a Diamond cluster
You don’t need a magnifying glass to see Natalie Medhurst is a quality diamond.
She continues to sparkle and her achievements on the netball court are stunning.
Next month Medhurst takes to the court for her third World Championship in the Diamonds uniform and if they are successful, her name will be etched amongst greats of the game.
Icons Margaret Caldow, Jenny Borlase, Shelley O’Donnell, Carissa Tombs, Vicki Wilson and Liz Ellis are the only players in the world to have ever won three World Championship Gold Medals.
Medhurst and Julie Corletto are keen to add their names to this special list.
“I certainly pinch myself that I have been a part of two winning world cup teams let alone heading to my third on home soil,” Medhurst, a 66-test game player explained.
“To be in the same sentence of our games’ absolute great players (not only here but in the world) is an incredible honour. “I’m not really a person for stats but that would definitely be a nice one to have.
“It’s been pretty incredible to have played alongside Julie (Corletto) all these years.”
Medhurst has won a staggering four club Most Valuable Player’s across three teams in ANZ Championship and Commonwealth Bank Trophy (previous domestic competition), the most recent achievement she was awarded West Coast Fever MVP for 2015.
“The accolade of (winning the West Coast Fever MVP), those sorts of things are nice but that’s not really what I look at when I look back on my achievements,” the West Coast Fever goal attack said.
“Winning premierships and being a part of that sort of success, that’s the ultimate, they are memories that no one can take away from you.”
Along with club awards, she has also achieved the ANZ Championships highest individual accolade, the Most Valuable Player when she was a joint winner with Leana DeBruin in 2011.
Medhurst also achieved team success in the same year as Queensland Firebirds went through the season undefeated to take out the championship.
This made her the only Australian netballer to have won an ANZ Championship Title and ANZ Championship Most Valuable Player award in the same year.
“2011 was the best form I felt like I have ever been in,” the 31 year old continued.
“Particularly as consistency goes across the whole year of the ANZ Championship, as well as going into the International series that was probably the best.
“I think the competition and the competitive nature of the sport has changed a lot even since then (four years ago).
“Having players that are playing incredible games every single week is quite a rare thing to see, just because of how tough it is out there on our bodies and the demands of a player.
“The premiership with the Queensland Firebirds , going through that year undefeated, looking back at what we achieved as a group was pretty remarkable.
“We were playing double headers, it was just such a full on season and to get through undefeated to win the premiership, I don’t think at the time we realised what it was that we actually achieved and I don’t know if it is something you will see again.”
Throughout her career Medhurst has had quality mentors and Marg Angove provided her the first opportunity.
“Marg has had such a huge influence on my career starting from underage teams, SASI and then to giving me my first chance at the Adelaide Thunderbirds,” Medhurst said.
“Out of all the other young shooters around at the time, she picked me & it was an opportunity I grabbed with both hands and didn’t want to let go of.”
“Marg calls a spade a spade, she was pretty straight down the line, I have had a huge amount of respect for her and still do.
“At times she had fun and knew how to let loose, she gave me my first opportunity, had a lot of belief and faith in me and my ability and I’m extremely grateful to her for the opportunity that she gave me.”
Medhurst is also appreciative to current Australian Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander.
“Lisa goes by the motto ‘better people make better athletes’ so she has a very holistic approach on that sort of thing,” she said.
“Over the last 12 to 18 months what she has done with the team and how she has been able to change the way she has gone about really making that Diamonds coaching position her own and what we're about as a team, what we've wanted to create and stand for, I think It’s been a huge testament to her.
“I know at the start when Lisa came on it was probably a bit rocky for her and to see the changes that she has made to herself as well.
“I know for me I'm enjoying my netball as much as what I ever had.
“I actually really enjoy getting in that environment, seeing the girls being a part of it and being a part of something that is such a huge part of sport in Australia it’s pretty exciting.
“Both Marg and Lisa have been huge mentors for different reasons for me.”
Over the years Medhurst has made a lot of great friends through netball and she often stays in touch with young Firebirds stars Kim Ravaillion and Gabi Simpson.
“I try and keep an eye out for them and make sure they are looking after themselves,” she continued. “It’s always great to catch up with those two girls, Kim is good fun and she certainly has her head screwed on she is grounded and is obviously a huge talent.
“She got thrown in the deep end there straight away (in the Aussie Line Up) and being so young and she handled it extremely well which is a real credit to her.”
Medhurst has shown strong resilience since she was told by Adelaide that she was not a priority player back in 2009.
Many would have packed it in and taken the easy option but Medhurst dug deep and was determined to prove Adelaide wrong.
“I always like to prove people wrong and purely the first 12 months when I left Adelaide was extremely tough, it was very raw,” Medhurst explained.
“I certainly use that as a motivator not so much to prove to other people but just to prove to myself exactly just what I’m capable of and just how strong and resilient I am and what it is I can actually do.
“Out on the netball court is where I feel most comfortable & is a bit of an escape when there’s “other” things that are going on.
“The career that I have had I’ve been pretty blessed and I guess I’ve been fortunate that I was lucky enough to go to a club like Queensland, have a coach like Roselee Jencke who is so supportive, understanding & great with her players because at the time I was probably hating netball in 2010.
“I probably wasn’t in a great place with myself either, being in that group really got my love back for the game and back here in Perth now my life away from the court as well as on it is probably the best it’s ever been.”
After four years at Queensland, Medhurst moved to Perth and was announced captain of the West Coast Fever under former Australian coach Norma Plummer.
Medhurst has been lucky with injuries other than suffering a tear in her plantar fascia (connective tissue on the bottom of the foot) in 2012 but she has no plans to retire any time soon, in fact her aim is to make the 2019 World Championships in England in four years’ time.
“Ideally I’d love to keep playing another four years so that goes to the next World Cup/Comm games cycle,” she said.
“That’s all things going as well as they can and keeping injury free.
“Now the clubs are a lot smarter in managing player’s loads, whereas rather than flogging the hell out of the players all year round they are a lot smarter with that.
“Hopefully that will see not only me but a lot of other players hanging around a lot longer.
“Four years would be my ‘max’, but if I’m not playing good netball or I’m not enjoying it anymore then won’t keep on playing.
For now Medhurst would like to just enjoy the ride of emotions netball provides.
“The challenge playing week in week out I absolutely love it you know that competitive nature and when you get out there playing with and also against the best players in the world you can’t beat it,” she said.
“You almost get a high with the roller coaster of emotions you face as an athlete.
“You only have to look at that Grand Final that was played this season as to what it can do, it can make you more determined, you can be over the moon in a second and at the bottom of the pile in the next.
“It’s almost like you get a natural high from that roller coaster of emotions.”
NATALIE MEDHURST AWARDS & STATS
1x ANZ Championship MVP 2011
1x ANZ Championship Title - Queensland Firebirds
2x Gold Medals - World Championships 2007, 2011
1x Gold Medal - Commonwealth Games 2014
1x Silver Medal - Commonwealth Games 2010
1x Bronze Medal - World Netball Series Fast 5 Competition
2x Tanya Denver Medals 2006 & 2007
2x The Advertiser Player of the Year Awards 2006 & 2007
1x Queensland Firebirds MVP 2012
1x West Coast Fever MVP 2015
Team - Position - Season - Goals/Attempts - Shooting Percentage - Centre Pass Receives - Goal Assists
AT 3rd 2008- 326/361 90.3%
AT 2nd 2009- 341/400 85.3% 281cpr 73ga
QF 5th 2010- 287/354 81.1% 235cpr 98ga
QF 1st 2011- 338/404 83.7% 256cpr 141ga
QF 6th 2012- 260/313 83.1% 226cpr 127ga
QF 2nd 2013- 261/318 82.1% 290cpr 207ga
WC 9th 2014- 194/243 79.8% 219cpr 133ga
WC 5th 2015- 197/229 86.0% 293cpr 148ga
Images- David Callow / Netball Australia