- Charles Sturt students secure six medals, including two gold, at UniSport Australia Nationals competition
- Members of the University’s Elite Athlete Program led the charge at the six-day event held at the Gold Coast
- Charles Sturt offers talented student-athletes the chance to pursue success on and off the sporting fields
Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) students enrolled in the University’s Elite Athlete Program (EAP) excelled at the 2019 UniSport Australia Nationals Division One competition at the Gold Coast.
The University’s students brought home six medals – two of them gold – from the UniSport Australia competition held from Saturday 28 September to Thursday 3 October.
The women’s rugby sevens side, comprised of athletes from Charles Sturt in Bathurst, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga, as well as online students, claimed the gold medal, as did Port Macquarie-based Physiotherapy student Mr Kalray Menezez for the men’s individual judo competition.
The Charles Sturt contingent included the largest number of EAP members – talented athletes offered academic, sporting and financial support during the course of their studies – at a UniSport Australia Nationals event.
Six of the members of the women’s rugby sevens side which defeated Griffith University in the gold medal game - Miss Claudia McLaren (Wagga Wagga), Miss Darcie Morrison (Bathurst), Miss Zarah Besseling (Wagga Wagga), Miss Olivia Creswick (Port Macquarie), Miss Claire Woolmington (Bathurst) and Miss Nicole Kennedy (Bathurst) - are enrolled in the EAP, as is the team’s coach, Mr Paddy Bowen (Port Macquarie).
Other members of the gold medal-winning women’s rugby sevens team were Miss Molly Kennedy (Bathurst), Miss Elizabeth Young (Wagga Wagga), Miss Ashleigh Bridge (Bathurst), Miss Tiffany Furniss (Wagga Wagga), Miss Jacinta Cooper (Bathurst), Miss Emma Hickey (Wagga Wagga), Miss Georgia Simpson (Wagga Wagga) and Miss Shannon Taylor (Wagga Wagga).
Mr Kalray, who won gold in the men’s individual judo competition as well as silver in the judo champion of champions event, is also a member of the EAP, as is Miss Gemma Mollenheaur, a Physiotherapy student from Albury, who took home a pair of bronze medals in cycling for the women’s road race and the criterium.
Mr Damien Tarbox, a Port Macquarie-based student studying a Bachelor of Primary teaching online, won a silver medal in men’s golf.
Elite Athlete program Coordinator Mrs Kate Staniforth said the University boasted a strong tradition in the women’s rugby sevens competition.
“Our women’s rugby sevens team winning gold was a huge achievement,” she said.
“The squad came from across three of the University’s campuses and also includes several online students, so for them to collaborate so well was a fantastic achievement.
“In the past five years Charles Sturt University has won gold four times and silver once in women’s rugby sevens. We came second to Griffith last year, so it was great for the girls to get the gold against them this year.”
Mrs Staniforth said the EAP was a way to foster the goals of athletically-gifted students without sacrificing their academic achievements.
“Charles Sturt University supports these students to enable them to successfully combine their studies with sport, so they don’t have to choose one over the other,” she said.
“Whilst our main focus is to support their studies, it is fantastic when we have the opportunity to support them on the field representing Charles Sturt University with pride.
“The EAP is growing each year, and it is great to see the strong friendships formed among team members which continue back at the University.”
There are more than 130 students currently enrolled in Charles Sturt’s EAP, including both on-campus and online students members.
Charles Sturt boasts a rich sporting heritage, with Paralympic gold medal-winning wheelchair racer Mr Kurt Fearnley AO an alumnus and a Pro-Chancellor of the University, as well as current students such as Ms Karlee McCulloch (three times world champion and Olympic cyclist), Mr David Pocock (Wallabies) and Ms Laura Peel (world champion and Olympic aerial skier).