ACU athletes bound for world stage

Pain and frustration have given way to unbridled joy for Holly Cushing who will represent her country for the first time at the 30th Summer Universiade in Italy.

The Bachelor of Nursing undergraduate is one of four ACU students selected for the UniRoos who will compete in Napoli from 3-14 July.

Her inclusion on the six-member diving contingent was a sweet reward after injury sidelined her from competition last year.

A stress reaction in her back meant she missed the junior world championships but now she will wear the green and gold as a member of the 184-strong UniRoos.

“I just feel like, finally, I’ve cracked it,” the 18-year-old said. “That back injury just would not leave so it’s a nice feeling to make a team after all that hard work.

Holly’s passion for sport is in her blood. Her dad Mark played rugby league in north Queensland, mum Xanthe was a dancer and brother Jordan has represented Australia in taekwondo.

She switched from gymnastics to diving as a 12-year-old and has not looked back.

Holly, decathlete Alec Diamond (Bachelor of Science), heptathlete Alysha Burnett (Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science) and water polo player Brooke McClean (Bachelor of Occupational Therapy) are the ACU students in the UniRoos, the national team made up of representatives from 65 universities.

All four are members of the Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP), an ACU admission pathway and support program to assist top sporting or artistic performers in pursuit of a balanced active and academic life.

Held from 3-14 July and showcasing 18 sports, the Summer Universiade is the world’s second largest international multi-sport event behind the Olympics and could act as a stepping stone to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

Former UniRoos include Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallists Steve Moneghetti (athletics), Steve Hooker (athletics), Dane Bird-Smith (athletics), Michelle Timms (basketball), Catherine Skinner (shooting) and Cate Campbell (swimming).

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