Minna Atherton Isn’t Superstitious, But Don’t Touch Her Lucky Reptile

July 27, 2022

When Minna Atherton was packing for Birmingham, her main priority was to ensure that a small sand-filled toy lizard was safely stowed in her luggage.

Named “Sparkles,” the lizard was given to him by a family friend who taught him how to ski.

“We always had a toy lizard that we used to carry with us on the slopes. So now I take it with me on all my adventures,” Atherton said with a laugh.

“It’s quite old, there are a few holes so it’s in a plastic bag.”

Atherton will open their Commonwealth Games campaign on Monday August 1, competing in the 200m backstroke.

A passing grade for the 22-year-old in Birmingham would be to swim faster than she did in trials.

“I’m super happy to be on the team, I didn’t swim my best time before the Commonwealth Games. A personal best would be nice. I haven’t had the best years, so I’m happy to be in the team.

Minna started making serious waves in swimming in 2019 when she broke the short course world record in the 100m backstroke held by three-time Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu of Hungary.

Atherton was then considered a medal contender for the Tokyo Olympics, but unfortunately failed to qualify.

When asked if she had any thoughts of wanting to leave Atherton replied, “A lot.”

“Most of the time last year and probably the year before that too, I thought I don’t know if this is for me. But I continued and here I am.

She said her state of mind improved significantly under the guidance of Bond’s head swimming coach, Chris Mooney.

“He’s been amazing, we worked on my enjoyment of the sport after Covid and a few other things interrupted my motivation. We worked on those things and we just wanted to be here and want to perform.

It also helps her not to have the stress of homework and exams weighing on her anymore. The Hancock Prospecting Swimming Excellence Scholarship recipient graduated with a degree in biomedical sciences from the University in June.

“I’ve been working on my degree since 2018, so it’s been a long time coming. I’m really glad I finished because now I can go and travel without the academic pressure I had in the past.

His Brisbane-based parents will be in Birmingham to cheer him on.

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