Team ACU takes it to Australian University Games

Published: Monday 17th October 2016

During the first week of October a team 150 ACU students from across all campuses traveled across the Nullarbor for the annual Australian University Games (AUGs). This year, Perth played host to the event which involved a total of 6,000 students from 42 universities across Australia competing in 32 different sports. Team ACU brought their fighting spirit and took the competition to the best and biggest universities in Australia.

Although Perth proved to be a challenge in terms of geography and logistics, especially due to ACU’s multi-campus setup, the team fielded outstanding results. ACU won a total of eight medals: four gold, two silver and two bronze medals. In the overall Australian University Games Champion, ACU finished in 13th place out of 42 Universities. This was huge improvement from 2015, when the squad finished in 24th place. It's all the more impressive given the squad was 50 per cent smaller this time around.

Kate Glassop, Manager of National Programs for Health Sport and Wellbeing was pleased with the results.“Despite the huge challenge that we face in terms of our multi-campus setup, our students came together to form successful teams and we highly value the input from our coaching staff in creating an environment of success, aspiration and support for the students,” she said.

In a strong start to the week, Bill Hong and Catherine Petrakis claimed two triumphant gold medals in Taekwondo. Catherine fought hard in the 57kg Black belt category to claim gold over Melbourne University. Whilst Bill won gold in the 74kg Blue belt category against Deakin University. It was a great way to kick off the competition, with two out of two Taekwondo competitors taking out the silverware.

Photo of ACU women's waterpolo team at the Australian University Games.

Women's Water Polo continued their undefeated run, two years in a row to claim ACU's first division one pennant in 10 years. Winning Gold against The University of Notre Dame (8-4)

Five days later, Women’s Water Polo broke the drought to claim ACU’s first Division 1 Pennant in 10 years. With the previous two division one pennants being Men’s AFL in 2004 and Women’s AFL in 2006. Morgan Baxter, leading goal scorer and member of ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer program, steered the Women’s Water Polo team to win the gold medal match against The University of Notre Dame. Finishing the grand final with a convincing 8-4 win which leaves ACU undefeated in this competition two years running.

The pool was a story of ACU’s successes with the individual performances making up three medals in total. The competition was fierce in the pool with multiple Olympians lining up on the starting blocks and Eamon Sullivan as the AUG’s patron. That could not stop Shanella Gee as she convincingly won the 200 metre Butterfly. Andrew Kennedy was also successful, winning silver in the 50 metre Backstroke and bronze in the 200 metre Backstroke.

Photo of ACU student Shanella Gee at the Australian University Games.

Shanella Gee won Gold in Women’s 200m Butterfly.

21 students from ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) which contributed to the team’s successes in Perth.

Ceran Nilsen, ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program Officer said: “It’s a great opportunity for elite athletes to get involved in university life whilst competing in a national competition. University Games is rare occasion that students get to play and learn alongside their peer elite athletes.”

As a result of the elite athlete involvement ACU blitzed the Green and Gold medal count with 16 awarded to our students for their outstanding performance throughout the week, four more than in 2015.The Green and Gold merit teams are selected to acknowledge, recognise and reward outstanding performances at Australian University Sport’s national events. This process selects athletes in a merit Green and Gold team which is indicative of the best on field performances at the relevant event.

Women’s AFL had a great week to claim silver and Men’s AFL secured a bronze in a hard fought match against the hometown rival Edith Cowan University. Other notable team performances were Futsal (Men’s) finishing fourth after a penalty shootout in the bronze medal match and Touch (Mixed) who just ran out of legs to lose their final two matches and finish sixth.

Overall, it was a successful week in Perth that brought together ACU students from all over Australia to compete on the national stage. We would like to thank all the staff, coaches, our alumni volunteer physiotherapist James Newbury and all the students involved.

Team ACU will be looking to build on this year’s exceptional results and continue its sporting achievements into 2017. These successes are a direct result of the hard work of all involved in creating a more competitive and professional approach to University Games events. Keep an eye out for Team ACU as Gold Coast hosts next year’s Australian University Games.