Griffith University Master of Arts student Cheryl Malone took out the National Press Club of Australia Student Journalist of the Year award at a ceremony in Canberra yesterday.

She also won the NAB Excellence in Student Journalism Award in the Australian Sport or International Sport category for her feature story Star Signs which was published in the September issue of Inside Sport magazine.

“This is an absolutely thrilling reward for all the effort I and my family have gone through over the years,” she said.

“As a student, you feel the real world is out of your reach but if you put the effort in the rewards are enormous. I wish every student could realise there’s so much out there if you want to go for it.”

The article for Inside Sport began as a university assignment.

The story explores how grouping children in 12-month bands can greatly disadvantage a significant proportion, particularly those born later in the year.

“I’d heard about age-related effect in sport before but hadn’t really given it much thought. Then I began exploring the subject and soon became hooked,” she said.

“For example, in general children born earlier in the year are physically better advantaged than those born in say November or December.

“This has ramifications for the results children achieve, and their overall self esteem and sense of wellbeing.”

The article outlines examples of national sporting teams in Australia and overseas where the majority of players are early born.

“I never imagined Inside Sport would be interested in my story, but my lecturer encouraged me to try.”

Not only was the magazine interested, but it bumped another story to fit hers in the already full Olympics-saturated September issue. After the article was published she was interviewed on ABC radio throughout the country and nominated for the press club award.

As part of the Honours component of her degree, she intends to write further feature articles for publication.