University qualifications are at the forefront of Australia’s Olympic athletes’ minds this year, with student athletes making up more than half of the Australian Olympic Team.
Of the 421 athletes competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 242 of those are studying at one of 38 Australian and overseas universities, with Griffith University having the highest portion of the cohort.
According to figures produced by Australian University Sport, Griffith University has 21 student and alumni athletes, with Curtin University following with 19 and University of Sydney with 17. These statistics do not include para-athletes and students who complete degrees via Open Universities Australia.
Griffith Sports College Director and Olympian Duncan Free OAM said it was inspiring to see that the importance of continuing study while training instilled in the minds of today’s elite athletes.
As a gold medal Olympic rower who completed his health science degree during the peak of his sporting career, Duncan knows too well the pressures these athletes are facing trying to balance both study and sport.
“The University’s reputation of academic flexibility for its student athletes is something we are very proud of, which has led to an increase in the number of elite athletes studying at Griffith and are being supported throughout their degrees by the Sports College,” he said.
“It’s great to work so closely with the athletes and be along side with them on their journey, not only as a student but also as an athlete and see them achieving their dreams of competing on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”
Not only is Duncan in a unique position to support Griffith’s student athletes, he is joined by Griffith Sports College manager Naomi McCarthy OAM (nee Castle) who is also an Olympic gold medallist.
Together Duncan and Naomi are well placed to advise and guide our athletes through one of the biggest challenges they will face during their sporting careers.
Griffith University has a total of 28 current and past students competing in more than 50 events at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympics.
This total is made up of current students representing Australia, a student representing Brazil, alumni, para-athletes and students who have completed degrees via Griffith through Open Universities Australia (OUA).