Griffith University students and alumni will be out in force at the 2016 Rio Olympics, potentially making an appearance on every day of competition as they match up against the world’s best athletes.
The significance of the strong showing has not been lost on two Griffith staff members who have already made the journey to Olympic glory.
Griffith Sports College Director Duncan Free and Manger Naomi McCarthy (nee Castle), both Olympic gold medalists, are preparing for weeks of all-nighters and early mornings as they follow the fortunes of 24 Griffith students and alumni participating at the Rio Olympics.
If all make the finals, the 17 Griffith students and seven alumni will see action on every day of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Among the current students will be medal hopefuls Cameron McEvoy and Emma McKeown, while Adam Imer will be representing Brazil in hockey.
The 24 athletes, along with at least three Paralympians heading for Rio, are part of the biggest field of Griffith students and alumni to participate at any Olympics and Paralympics.
“This is a considerable jump from the number of Griffith athletes attending London in 2012,” said Ms McCarthy.
“As a University and as a Sports College, we’re looking forward to following our athletes’ performance.
“We’ve been involved in their journey to make the team at one of world’s biggest sporting events, so it’s a very exciting time for us all.”
Mr Free and Ms McCarthy help students balance the demands of training with university study. They also stand as mentors to some students and both will be closely following the fortunes of each Griffith athlete over the next few weeks.
“I can legitimately say it’s my job to watch the Olympics, which I would have done anyway,” said Ms McCarthy, who represented Australia in water polo at Sydney and Athens. “For somebody that enjoys sports, it’s as good as it gets.”
Mr Free, a veteran of four Olympics winning gold at Beijing for the coxless pair in rowing, is expecting medals from the Griffith students and alumni in the next few weeks.
“But what I really would like to see is a lot of personal bests from our athletes,” he said.
“If that can make us a final or get us a gold medal it would be awesome. What I would like to see is the younger athletes grow, like they have over the last 12 to 18 months, and for them to develop as athletes at the Olympics Games.
“We want them to come back inspired to go on for another four years.”