ACU celebrates golden Olympic Games in Rio

Monday, 22 August 2016

Olympics Emma Tonegato Rugby Sevens Rio

A historic 2016 Rio Olympic Games for ACU has come to an end, with focus now turning toward September’s Paralympics.

In a whirlwind 16 days of competition, eight ACU students and alumni competed in Rio, contributing three medals to Australia’s total of 29, including two gold.

Business student Mack Horton announced himself as one of the next stars of the swimming pool, winning Australia’s first gold medal of the Games in the 400m freestyle. The 20-year-old attracted plenty of attention following comments he made about athletes caught using performance enhancing substances, sparking conversation around the world.

Joining Mack with gold was OT student Emma Tonegato, who scored Australia’s opening try in the rugby sevens gold medal game as they went on to claim a 24-17 win, the first gold medal awarded for the sport at an Olympic Games, and Australia’s only medal in a team sport in Rio.

Exercise and Sports Science student Anabelle Smith produced a heroic performance in her final dive of the synchronised 3m springboard with teammate Maddison Keeney to claim a bronze medal on the second day of competition.

These weren’t the only medals ACU had a hand in, with staff at the School of Exercise Science part of the team that trained Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang to a historic first Olympic track cycling medal.

Nursing graduate Rachael Lynch starred between the posts as the Hockeyroos reached the quarter finals, fellow alumnus Paul Adams claimed a top 20 finish in the skeet shooting, while Grant Nel reached the semi-final stage of the 3m springboard.

Exercise and Sports Science graduate Melissa “Milly” Tapper created her own piece of sporting history, becoming the first Australian Paralympian to compete an Olympic Games.

For the table tennis star focus now turns to next month’s Paralympic Games where Milly will aim to improve on her fourth-place finish in London and climb on to the podium in Rio.

Someone familiar with standing on the podium at Paralympics is Exercise and Sports Science student and swimming star Ellie Cole, who will be looking to add to her nine medals won in Beijing and London.

Many of the ACU stars in Rio past and present have been a part of the Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP), which provides athletes and performers with support and assistance as they aim to compete and perform on the biggest stage.

To find out more about ACU’s EAPP visit

Follow our ACU athletes competing at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, and get the latest via ACU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.