Commonwealth hopefuls wait on venue announcement

Griffith University students Katie Goldman and Danni De Francesco are among a group of elite athletes eagerly anticipating this weekend’s announcement of the venue for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Australian swimmer Katie Goldman (pictured) has lived most of her life on the Gold Coast.

“I think by 2018 I would be getting to the end of my swimming career and to compete in front of a home crowd would be an absolutely amazing thing, an opportunity that not many athletes get,” the 19-year-old said.

She has been part of the Australian swimming team for two years and competed at the Pan Pacific Championships, Delhi Commonwealth Games, World Short Course Championships and most recently at the World Championships in Shanghai.

Representing Australia at next year’s Olympic Games in London is her next target.

“Right now that is where my focus is, however I am still very excited at the prospect of the Gold Coast hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games,” the Bachelor of Psychology student said.

“If I were to make that team, which is never a given, I think it would be a very proud moment.

“I think it is the perfect place to host the Games. While I am sure Sri Lanka would host a good Games, I feel the Gold Coast has so much more to offer and personally I know I would want to continue swimming until 2018 in order to compete in front of a home crowd.”

Danni De Francesco shares these sporting sentiments. Asked to describe herself in three words, Danni settles on “hard working athlete”.

Right now the exciting prospect of the Gold Coast hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games is a salivating incentive for her to work even harder.

“It would certainly drive me even more to get to the 2018 Games,” the 19-year-old Griffith University student says. “It would be amazing to be part of it, instead of watching it on TV.”

Danni calls the Gold Coast home after her family moved there from Victoria eight years ago.

She has represented Australia in the seas off Shanghai, Italy and Canada, finishing eighth of 50 in the final of the FINA Open Water 5km Championships last year.

Under the stewardship of renowned Queensland coach Denis Cotterell, her star has risen since she first took up swimming as a seven-year-old.

Now she is targeting the 2018 Commonwealth Games where she hopes to represent Australia in the triathlon after she adjusted sporting codes earlier this year.

Denis Cotterell remains an integral part of her coaching team, but she now has Jenny Alcorn from Surfers Paradise Triathlon Club on board to help build her competitive capacity in the cycling and running disciplines.

“It is a sport you grow into so I can work towards the Commonwealth Games target and hopefully be there.

“When I was young it was always great to watch it and I wanted to be part of it.”

She remembers cheering for Grant Hackett and Ian Thorpe at Commonwealth Games in the past.

Danni is studying nutrition and dietetics at Griffith University’s School of Public Health and is currently sitting first year exams.

As part of the Griffith Sports College, where flexible study options are made available to elite athletes, both Danni and Katie are able to build lectures and tutorials around their sporting endeavours.

“At the moment I am studying psychology and I am absolutely loving it,” Katie says.

“I am taking the course part time as with my swimming that is all I could really manage. However just doing two subjects really balances my life out.

“After I graduate I would love to work in the field of clinical psychology. I definitely have a while to go as I am only doing my degree part time, but I find it really interesting and I feel good knowing I will have a career after swimming as swimming doesn’t last forever.”

Danni laughs when told she might be following on the same path as Sara Carrigan, another sporty Griffith graduate from the Gold Coast.

Sara received her business degree 12 years after her studies started. Between 1999 and 2010, she won gold at the Olympic Games in Athens and competed at Commonwealth Games in 2006 when she won bronze in Melbourne, and in 2002 in the UK.

This week Sara was part of the Gold Coast delegation in the Caribbean aiming to bring the 2018 Commonwealth Games to Queensland.