The gold medal winning Australian team at the World University Games 2015.
Australian Catholic University (ACU) students and elite water polo players Ellodie Ruffin and Morgan Baxter have earned national team selection.
The pair is joining the Australian Women’s Water Polo team, the Aussie Stingers, for a week-long tour of Japan this month as part of preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Both are second year physiotherapy students and members of the ACU Elite Athlete and Performer Program which gives elite athletes additional support to maintain sporting excellence while undertaking studies in higher education.
Nineteen year old Ruffin, who won a gold medal at the World University Games held in South Korea earlier this year, said the support and flexibility offered as part of the elite athlete and performer program has been invaluable as she pursues her sporting dreams.
“ACU has been unbelievable,” she said. “They have supported me from the very beginning. It's a real testament to them if I manage to get through my subjects after only being in Brisbane for three weeks of a 12 week semester and I am forever grateful for the understanding and support.”
“This selection is a great opportunity to train and work on my skills at an international level and I will have an opportunity to step into the team and hopefully fulfil a leadership role from the front.
“Japan is fast, mobile and erratic so we will have to work on our adaptability and speed of decision making to cope.”
Twenty-two year old Baxter, who narrowly missed selection for Rio 2016, said selection in this tour is a real confidence boost.
“This selection is very important to me,” she said. “After not being selected in the Rio 2016 squad, it was very uplifting and motivating to be selected into this team and to be told that I was a potential player for the 2020 Olympics.
“ACU has allowed my course pathway and class timetable to be flexible to my competition and training schedule so I can attend all the training sessions that I need to during the week and remove the stress of juggling both a full-time training and study load.”
The ACU Elite Athlete and Performer Program supports and encourages students to achieve academic excellence while also pursuing their sporting careers.