ACU gold rush in Rio

Published: Thursday 11th August 2016

Photo of Emma Tonegato

Photo: Emma Tonegato in action (Credit: ARU Media)

ACU Business student Mack Horton not only won ACU’s first medal of the games, he was successful in claiming Australia’s first gold medal in the 400 metres Men’s Freestyle Swimming final on the morning of Sunday, 7 August.  Mack held off defending Olympic champion Sun Yang from China to become the sixth Australian to win gold in the 400 metres freestyle joining the likes of sporting greats Ian Thorpe and Murray Rose.

Capping off an amazing opening weekend in Rio for ACU, Exercise and Sports Science student Anabelle Smith produced a remarkable comeback performance in the diving pool to claim a bronze medal in the women’s synchronised 3m-springboard on Monday, 8 August.

Following this fantastic early success, Occupational Therapy student Emma Tonegato created history playing a starring role in Australia’s victory over New Zealand 24-17 to claim the first ever Rugby Sevens Olympic Games gold medal. Emma scored a crucial try in the first half to give Australia the lead going into the break and was one of the team’s stars throughout the competition.

ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven praised all three students for their success and acknowledged the role the ACU Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) played in assisting these student athletes to fulfill their dreams. Read more of what Professor Craven had to say here.

With over a week left of competition, there are opportunities for yet more medals for ACU in Rio with Mack Horton to again lock horns with Sun Yang in the 1500m Freestyle on Saturday 13 August(Heats 2.40am-4.10am and Final at 11.11am AEST). The ACU community is urged to get behind Mack in his quest for back-to-back gold!

ACU’s most successful Paralympic athlete Ellie Cole (Health and Exercise Science) who already sports nine Paralympic medals, will again be favoured to star in a swathe of swimming events at her third games. The Paralympics will take place from 7 September to 18 September and the ACU community wishes Ellie the best of luck in all her upcoming events.

In total, the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games has eight ACU students (past and present) competing. Along with those already mentioned, the contingent includes Australia’s first Olympian and Paralympian Melissa ‘Milly’ Tapper (Table Tennis), Exercise and Sports Science alumnus Grant Nel (Diving), Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch and Nursing graduate Paul Adams (skeet shooting).

Many of the ACU stars in Rio have been members 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

Learn more about our ACU athletes competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and get the latest via ACU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.