Griffith named a top uni for elite athletes

Griffith Sports College Director Duncan Free OAM welcomes new manager Naomi McCarthy OAM to the team.
Griffith Sports College Director Duncan Free and manager Naomi McCarthy prepare for a big Griffith presence at Rio.

Griffith is one of Australia’s two top universities when it comes to elite athletes choosing where they want to study according to research conducted by the Australian Institute of Sport.

Griffith Sports College Director and Olympic rower, Duncan Free OAM said this recognition by tier one elite athletes reaffirms Griffith’s position as one of Australia’s leading sporting universities.

“Griffith has a strong commitment to sporting excellence through its partnership with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, innovative research, teaching, sports scholarships and promoting healthy lifestyles,” Duncan said.

“We are also dedicated to supporting elite athletes as they balance study along with rigorous training and competition schedules.”

Griffith has 45 students registered as tier one elite athletes with the AIS, and more than 400 students who are members of the Griffith Sports College. In the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Griffith students and alumni took home 10 gold medals, five silver and seven bronze. If Team Griffith had been a competing nation, it would have placed 10th on the tally board.

Ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Griffith will open its new Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast campus in 2017. The campus is also adjacent to the Parklands Project which will be transformed into the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village and home to 6500 athletes while GC2018 is on.

Griffith Sports College has just appointed new manager Naomi McCarthy to help run the elite sports program. Naomi is also a former Olympic gold medallist who represented Australia in women’s water polo for many years and was named by the Queensland Academy of Sport in the Top 10 Athletes of the Decade in 2001.

Duncan is delighted she has joined the team.

“We have a lot to offer in sport and have a great reputation of creating flexibility for our elite athletes which helps in creating a perfect study sport balance,” Duncan said.

“Bringing in Naomi, who is an Olympic gold medallist and a Griffith graduate, builds on that reputation.

“Having someone that has gone through what our current athletes are experiencing is invaluable, especially so close to Rio.”

Naomi made her first Australian team while studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science at Griffith University in 1992, so she can relate to the journey of Griffith’s current elite athletes as they train for the Rio Olympics and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“I know how much the Sports College helped me and to work with those athletes it doesn’t really feel like work. Elite sport is a passion and to work in it every day is something I’m really excited about,” Naomi said.

Bachelor of Sports Development student Domonic Bedggood, who won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in diving, said the Griffith Sports College had given him more support throughout his journey than he “ever could have imagined”.

“The Sports College is always willing to go that extra mile to make sure I’m on top of everything,” he said. “It’s great because it is one less stress I have to worry about when I am at the peak of my training and competing.”