Rural Clinical School Alumni Dr Elena Galiabovitch Flag Bearer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games
Dr Elena Galiabovitch. If her name sounds familiar, it might be because you heard it mentioned during the recent 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Dr Elena Galiabovitch is a champion pistol shooter who has participated in two Olympic games and was chosen to carry the Olympic flag for helping in the COVID response at the opening ceremony representing Oceania. Competitors with a medical workforce background from each continent were chosen to walk with the flag as a mark of respect to all the medical professions who have worked tirelessly in the fight against COVID-19.
The flag bearers included:
- Kento Momota from Japan representing Asia. A badminton champion and an advocate for donating to COVID-19 research
- Mehdi Essadiiq from Morocco representing Africa. A triathlete and psychiatrist
- Paula Pareto from Argentina representing the Americas. A judo champion and trauma specialist
- Paola Ogechi Egonu from Italy representing Europe. She is a Volleyball player and has worked as a volunteer to organise thank you campaigns for medical staff
- Cyrille Faget Tchatchet is originally from Cameroon but arrived in the UK as a refugee. Representing the Refugee Olympic Team, he is a psychiatric nurse and competes in weightlifting
- Elena Galiabovitch represented Oceania and is about to commence her training as a Urological surgeon.
As a four year old child, she and her family arrived from Belarus and settled in Melbourne. Elena started school without a word of English but according to her mother, she was soon talking and as she put it, “everything fell into place.”
She was in the first intake of the new MD course at the University of Melbourne and when informed she had to complete a rural placement, her heart sank. She went to Ballarat and fortunately had an incredible experience.
“I got to know the group of students well and you also get to know more people from all around the hospital. Rural and regional settings are where the opportunities live and offer you room for growth. I did a good job at embracing this change,” she says.
Elena immersed herself in practical experiences and still found time to socialise with the other students in Ballarat and with the staff.
“While I was in Ballarat, we all attended a surgical rotation with access to the Urology unit. We found that the Urology team were informative, inclusive and welcoming. This is a reminder that one small experience can in fact shape what you might choose,” says Elena.
This positive clinical experience, this impact of a moment of learning made her consider Urology as her specialist area and in February 2022, she will commence her surgical training with the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand for five years. Her first placement will be at Western Health.
The question everyone is asking: how will she combine her sporting career with her journey of study and discovery to become a surgeon? She is confident she can balance these two key aspects of her life with a support team behind her.
Elena is looking forward to the next exciting chapter of her life. While professional shooting will continue to be a feature of her life, the focus will be on advancing her career over the next few years.