Four Griffith University students have received Griffith University and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Scholarships this year, and commencing students in 2018 still have the opportunity to apply for the remaining two scholarships on offer.

When Sharath Achanta became the first Indian to win a table tennis gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, an eight-year-old countryman was inspired while watching on television in southern India.

From that historic day, table tennis would be a centrepiece in the young life of Narasimhan Ravi who would go on to compete at national level himself under the tutelage of leading Russian and Chinese coaches.

A haul of 78 trophies and 45 medals from his pursuits in table tennis, badminton and cross-country running takes pride of place in the Chennai home of the 19-year old also known as Naz.

His commitment to sport and education is embodied in a school routine which had him rising for school at 3.30am each morning for a four-hour round trip to school, followed by another 60km in the evening to and from table tennis training. He usually got home around 9.15pm and was soon in bed.

Homework happened in transit yet he maintained an academic average above 90% during this challenging routine.

His determination and his talent have now been rewarded with a prestigious Griffith University and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) Scholarship for the 19-year-old who is studying exercise science and business at Griffith University.

“It’s an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone tobe a part of the Commonwealth Games,” Narasimhan says.

Narasimhan (pictured left) is one of four Griffith University students who receivedscholarships on Thursday, May 4, at the head office of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC).

Like Narasimhan, exercise science student Ali McCowen receivedan academic scholarship, while two sporting excellence scholarships went to track cyclist and business student Kristina Clonan and boxer Skye Nicolson who is studying a Bachelor of Midwifery.

The scholarships, available to first-year students, celebrate academic excellence, sport participation and achievement, leadership and community engagement. Each scholarship includes a full fee waiver, accommodation and a contribution towards education expenses.

“When I was putting together my application for the scholarship, I felt the questions I was responding to were about the person behind the application,” Kristina Clonan says.

“Griffith wanted to know more about me, my goals, where I was going. They wanted people with ambition both in sport and academically.”

Kristina’s (pictured below) sporting ambitions are now fully focused on the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast after her first experience of senior competition at a world championship event in Hong Kong in April.

“For me the Commonwealth Games means more opportunity. While being part of the team pursuit will be my main aim there are also extra chances to compete with three additional events at the Games.”

Kristina discovered her aptitude for cycling aged 14 after a series of athletics-related injuries prompted the need for a cross-trainer sport. The choice was swimming or cycling. The 19-year-old from the Sunshine Coast quickly rose to the top of her sport, leading now to this prestigious scholarship. She recalls the moment the Manager of the Griffith Sports College and Australian water polo legend, Naomi McCarthy, called to let her know her application had been successful.

“I was baby-sitting at the time. The little girl I was looking after did a little happy dance with me,” she says. “It’s an incredible opportunity, more than I could ever have expected.

“Naomi has been so helpful with absolutely everything. She’s a former elite athlete and she understands what I’m going through. People might think it’s easy to handle it all but an elite athlete has to learn how to balance a sports calendar with a university calendar when they are studying. Membership of the Griffith Sports College has helped me so much.”

GOLDOC, Chief Executive Officer, Mark Peters said GC2018’s partnership with Griffith University was showing how the Games can deliver a lasting legacy for the host community.

“Our Games are a significant event, the largest the Gold Coast and Queensland have ever seen and the largest in this country for a decade,” he said.

“Griffith were quick out of the blocks when it came to joining the GC2018 sponsorship family and I’m really pleased to see how the Griffith team continue to develop the relationship and leverage opportunities for the benefit of students.

“We’re working hand in glove with Griffith to develop the partnership which amongst other things will see 250 students gain on the job experience by working within GOLDOC, offering graduate employment and staff secondment opportunities and a variety of research opportunities.”

Alexandra McCowen (17, below) was also present to accept one of the academic scholarships. She completed high school as dux of Concordia Lutheran College in Toowoomba before starting a degree in exercise science on Griffith’s Gold Coast campus.

“I had a lot of sporting commitments before coming to university so I had not had a chance to save too much money. The scholarship gives me a bit of a life at university. It takes the pressure off me and my parents,” she says.

Thursday’s presentation ceremony wasattended by Chief Executive Officer of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation, Mark Peters; Professor Ned Pankhurst, Head of Gold Coast campus, Griffith University; and Duncan Free OAM, Director of Griffith Sports College.

Boxer Skye Nichols who is studying a Bachelor of Midwifery was also awarded a scholarship.

Boxer Skye Nicholson who is studying a Bachelor of Midwifery was also awarded a scholarship.