​Julie Gibson (Saunders)

1998 Collegian

1998-Julie-Saunders-Photo
Julie Gibson (Saunders): centre

I have competed in six ironman championships which included two in WA (placing second in 2005), and two in Australia. I won the Australian 20-24 years age group in 2006.

At that time I was still pretty new to it all and I hadn't set out to beat others, I was really racing against myself. Then I realised I was in front of the other people in my age group so about halfway through I was definitely aiming to win.

I also competed in two world championship events in Hawaii. Competing in Hawaii was an amazing experience. The second time, I had been hit by a car during training a week before I left. There was never any doubt that I would take part. Competing in the world championships is the pinnacle and you never give up the opportunity unless you absolutely have to. The atmosphere of the event is so amazing and exciting. I was okay apart from a bit of bruising, but I had to get a new bike so it was a bit stressful.

After leaving school I studied science engineering at UWA. As part of the degree, I did work experience in fire safety and I enjoyed that, so I ended up doing a Master's in Fire Safety Engineering at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

I was with the Fire Safety Engineering group at Complete Fire Design for 5½ years, three as manager. I finished up in December 2012 and am now in the process of setting up my own business.

Typically I would sit at engineering design team meetings as the only female with five to 15 males. Being the only woman doesn't feel strange to me at all and I have always felt well accepted.

I think that one of the biggest walls people face in not reaching their dreams is themselves.

On MLC: I loved time spent with friends, sport, keeping track of Mr Ireland's ties in maths – he was one of my favourite teachers. Watching West Side Story as part of music. I really enjoyed school. I still have a strong connection with my core group of friends