Published: Wednesday 30th July 2014
The nerves and anxiety never really leave you, regardless of how many international competitions you've entered, how highly ranked you are, or how many medals you've bagged.
Annabelle Smith has climbed more diving board ladders than she can remember, but the feeling of excitement and nerves before an event is never far from the surface. When she was named as one of the 103-strong team to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she admits she was relieved.
"We have a stressful qualifying process and it was such a weight off my shoulders when I performed well at our trials and made the team," Annabelle said.
The 21-year-old will compete in the 3m springboard and 3m synchronised diving, and she has a reputation that precedes her. Annabelle represented Australia at the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where she won bronze, as well as at two World Cups, two World Championships and the London Olympics in 2012.
"I am aiming for two medals so I am looking forward to competing and soaking up the atmosphere," she said.
The exercise and health science student juggles a heavy load of competing, training, studying and family, but Annabelle said ACU has supported her throughout and helped her stay on top of her workload, including allowing her to fit exams in when she is in the country. She is currently competing in Mexico and will attend the World Cup in Shanghai before she even gets to Glasgow.
Like Annabelle, skeet shooter Paul Adams is a member of ACU's Elite Athletes Program. The third-year Bachelor of Nursing student studies part-time to manage three days of training as well as international travel.
Paul has competed in several World Cup and World Championships, but Glasgow will be his first Commonwealth Games. He placed fourth in the last World Cup in the United States, and said he was "stunned at first, then over the moon with joy" when the realisation set in that he and his grandfather, who doubles as his coach, are off to Scotland.
Jarrod Geddes and Jess Ashwood complete the ACU team who will compete at the Commonwealth Games.
Athletics star Jarrod has always been sporty, competing in Little Athletics as a child and playing AFL before athletics became his primary focus at 16. Now 20, he is a 200m specialist and has competed at the 2011 World Youth Championships in France, 2013 Diamond League in London, and the 2013 Australian World Championship. However an injury meant the physiotherapy student was unable to compete in the national championships and Commonwealth Games selection trials in April this year.
"Athletics is a very demanding and highly taxing sport not only physically but also mentally and emotionally," Jarrod said.
"Having said that it can reward you greatly as well. To date my memories of the sport are mostly of the great ones, but I would not be where I am today without the down times."
His 200m B qualifying time was enough to win selection for the Commonwealth Games team, where he intends to cement his place as a force to be reckoned with.
Post Glasgow, Jarrod has set his sights on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and smashing the 10-second barrier in the men's 100 metres.
Distance is what keeps Jess Ashwood powering up and down the pool. Her favourite distance is 1500m, and she won silver at the 2011 Australian Championships and went on to swim in the World Championships in Shanghai but there is no 1500m Olympic OR CG?? event for women so she has honed her 800m skills and competed at the London Olympics in 2012. Jess has won a string of silver and bronze medals and is hoping to add another medal to her collection when she swims at Glasgow.
Jess's grandmother was a swimming coach and Jess started out at four, following her older brother Chris into the pool. She is studying teaching at ACU.