A heartening message from Renae Burdack

Hi Erkin,

After reading “A heartening message from Tai McIsaac”, I was moved that Tai, who has achieved so much, would take the time to publicly recognise your contribution. I felt compelled to echo his sentiments.


Renae with his family

I was still only 16 when I made my first Australian Junior Squad and attended a training camp under you. I was dedicated, fit and fast. My skills (by Australian standards at the time) were okay for my age and I thought I knew how to play water polo. I had no idea just how much I still had to learn. In the next three or four years, I learnt more about water polo than I ever thought there was to know, but that was to be expected. I was a naive 16 year old under the tutorage of an Olympic, World and European Champion, with the added support of some fantastic AIS coaches and experienced players who challenged and guided me every day.

But it was the other qualities that you brought out that surprised most people who knew me. Thinking back, even at that first camp, you had your critics – those who complained that you were uncompromising, very demanding and you would highlight our short comings. But surely these are the attributes of a great champion and astute coach. They were either too short-sighted to see the bigger picture or they just did not like the implications that meant they (or their children) had to work smarter, train harder and strive for better performance. You demonstrated and demanded dedication, preparation, teamwork, plus physical and mental toughness at level so much higher than I can articulate in this email. You helped to create a vision of what was possible and fueled an aspiration to achieve.

Little did I realize at the time that these basic principles, would enhance our performance, not only in water polo, but in work, study and life in general. I think many of us (even if some still don’t recognize it) owe you a debt of gratitude. You have helped to shape a large group of young Australians.

I was never an overly gifted athlete, and I never achieved great heights in the sport. But, a large part of what I did accomplish, can be attributed to your influence. Like Tai, I too did some coaching after I retired. But I chose to give it away when my wife became pregnant with our third child (we now have four). I simply wanted to enjoy more time with them. I still try to apply those basic principles that you instilled in me and believe they have contributed to my completion of an MBA, and my success in finding the perfect job to compliment my family, values and lifestyle.

Many thanks,

Renae Burdack

At the 1995 Junior world championships Renae was Australia’s highest goal-scorer (16). His strong performance and leadership throughout the entire campaign but in particular in the crucial matches against France (3 goals), the USA (3), Germany (2) and the Bronze medal match with Slovakia (5) helped the team achieve the historic fourth placing.

Thank you Renae! You have always been a true gentleman!

1995 AUS junior team 4 001

Standing: Doug Cocking (Coach), Erkin Shagaev (Head Coach), Renae Burdack, Scott Waterman, Rafael Strerk, Ron Morelli (Ass. Coach), Gavin Woods, Peter Soros, Ryan Moar, Tai McIsaac, Paul Hofman, Daniel Carr, Nick May, Antony Matkovich, Adrian Bolt, Chris Luyendyk and John Bird (Referee). Front: Brad Hiskins (physio) and Ross Simpson (Manager).

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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