No rest for ACU's Olympians

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has concluded but the dreaming will continue for Australian Catholic University’s student and alumni Olympians.

ACU’s newest Olympians have wasted little time while serving quarantine periods in Sydney and Howard Springs in the Northern Territory.

While still feeling the warm satisfaction of achievement at the Games, many student athletes already were meeting course requirements while still in quarantine.

Bronze medallist rower Rowena Meredith’s thoughts have returned to prac for the two Bachelor of Paramedicine units she has on her plate this semester.

For dual Olympian Emma Tonegato, her donga accommodation in Howard Springs doubled as a temporary office where she could perform a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy placement via Zoom.

“I’ve got three subjects and a nine-week placement to go,” the 2016 sevens rugby gold medallist said.

“I’m so looking forward to graduating. I’ve got a taste of it now, having done so many placements and I’ve loved them all. 

“It’s a really exciting time and I’m confident now I have a career that I’m really passionate about.”

ACU will be represented at the Paralympics by cyclist Paige Greco, wheelchair rugby player Shae Graham, swimmers Brenden Hall and Ellie Cole, and Milly Tapper (table tennis) who also competed at the Olympics.

For others, it’s time to reflect on their achievements and plan ahead.

Taekwondo representative Reba Stewart (Bachelor of Psychological Science/Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science) struggled with the isolation of quarantine but has used that time to plan study, organise shifts at the phone store where she works part-time and plot a return to competition in Europe later this year.

“Now I have a taste of it I want more,” she said.

Meredith is completing two units this semester and is also hopeful of diving back into prac when lockdown restrictions allow it.

“I’m happy to be back with the same cohort I was with last year,” she said. “It will be good to get back to campus.”

The International Olympic Committee this year added the word Together to its motto, “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. A strong sense of unity was for most athletes the lasting memory from Tokyo and it’s also that feeling of connection that nourishes student wellbeing at university.

ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) supports its members in pursuit of success in both their academic and active goals.


Current Students

  • Competing in her first Olympics, current student Rowena Meredith (Bachelor of Paramedicine – North Sydney) secured a bronze medal in the Women’s Quadruple Scull.
  • Defending Olympic Champion Emma Tonegato (Bachelor of Occupational Therapy) returned to the field with the Australian Rugby Sevens team where they placed fifth.
  • Reba Stewart (Bachelor of Psychological Science/ Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science – Melbourne) made her Olympic debut (Round of 16) in Taekwondo.


  • Rachael Lynch (Bachelor of Nursing, 2009) was inducted into Olympians for Life for her outstanding contribution to society, giving back to communities and fighting COVID-19. Rachael and the Hockeyroos placed fifth in Tokyo, with fellow alumni and ACU Sport staff member Katie Allen (B. Psychological Science, 2017) guiding the team as the assistant coach.
  • Melissa Tapper (Bachelor of Exercise Science, 2010) is the only Australian to compete at the Olympics and the Paralympics in the same year. Melissa placed 9th in both the Mixed Doubles and the Women’s Team event for Table Tennis at the Olympics.
  • Elle Armit (Graduate Certificate in Religious Education, 2019) made her Olympic debut with the women’s Water Polo team, placing 5th.
  • Competing in her 3rd Olympics, Anabelle Smith (Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science, 2019) was 14th in the 3m Springboard.
  • Paul Adams (Bachelor of Nursing, 2015) was 21st in the Men’s Skeet at his second Olympics. Paul hopes to return to ACU to commence a Bachelor of Physiotherapy.

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