ACU Athletes Top the World

Two student athletes from ACU’s Strathfield campus have won medals at the Summer Universiade (also known as the World University Games) in Taipei.

Kyle Cranston has taken out the gold medal in the Men’s Decathlon while Alysha Burnett has claimed silver in the Women’s Heptathlon! ACU would like to congratulate these two students on their outstanding performances while representing Australia and their university on the world stage.

The Australian Uniroos squad is selected from the best student athletes throughout Australian universities.  Five ACU students were selected for the Games: brothers Thomas and William Afonczenko (Taekwondo), Alysha Burnett (Heptathlon), Kyle Cranston (Decathlon) and Brooke McClean (Water Polo). All of ACU’s athletes had outstanding results, with both of the Afonczenko brothers making it into the late rounds of their weight category and William going down to the Olympic silver medallist, as well as Brooke’s water polo team beating France to play off for fifth spot. 

For those unfamiliar with the Decathlon, it is a gruelling two-day multi-faceted athletics event that tests both the body and mind of its participants, consisting of four track and six field events. While the Decathlon comprises of ten events throughout two days, the women’s equivalent, the Heptathlon, is made up of seven events. 

Kyle’s personal best was ranked twelfth heading into one of the hardest events at the World University Games. The 24-year-old excelled in the 35 degree heat to set four new personal best times out of his ten events. Cranston defeated the odds and sealed his medal with a strong 4:42.08 performance in the 1500m which raised his total score to 7,687.

Just two days after Cranston’s emphatic victory, Burnett produced an amazing personal best in the high jump event with 1.86m, finishing the first day of competition in second place.

The second day proved to be hot and humid conditions, but this did not stop Burnett who jumped 6.09m in the long jump, followed by a large 42.26m throw in the javelin before closing out the campaign with one of the hardest 800m of her career. Burnett finished the event in style with a new personal best of 5,835 points, making it her most successful heptathlon ever, and a silver to prove it!

Just a few months earlier, 20-year-old Burnett became Australia’s youngest heptathlon national champion, taking out the title with 5,817 points.

ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program Officer, Ceran Nilsen said “these are fantastic results as World University Games is a crucial stepping stone for these emerging student athletes endeavouring for a spot in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games or the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games squads”.

These student are supported by ACU through the Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) which helps balance the demands of being an athlete or performer with academic pursuits, to excel at both university and their chosen sporting or performing field. ACU boasts over 400 student athletes and performers across more than 70 disciplines. Members of the EAPP have access to academic support, early timetabling and financial support, among other sporting or performing arts related opportunities. 

For more information about the program contact ACU’s EAPP team at

Photo credit: Jump Media/ Australian Uniroos

Full ACU Squad:

Alysha Burnett: Athletics, Heptathlon (Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science)
Kyle Cranston: Athletics, Decathlon (Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science)
Thomas Afonczenko: Taekwondo (Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science)
William Afonczenko: Taekwondo (Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science)
Brooke McClean: Water Polo (Bachelor of Occupational Therapy)


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