A record 56 University of Queensland students – including five Olympic and Paralympic representatives – have received 2017 UQ sporting scholarships.
They include three-time Paralympic gold medallist Brenden Hall; Rio Olympic bronze medallists Maddison Keeney and Dane Bird-Smith; 2016 Olympians Ashley Stoddart and Danielle Prince; and five Queensland Firebirds netballers – including club captain and Australian Diamonds representative Gabi Simpson.
A total of 57 sporting scholarships have been awarded, with several sports, such as surf lifesaving, futsal and water skiing represented for the first time.
UQ Sport Chief Executive Mr Bryan Pryde said the UQ Sporting Scholarship program has grown significantly.
“2017 is by far the biggest year for sporting scholarships at UQ, not only in terms of the number awarded, but also the number of donors supporting the initiative,” Mr Pryde said.
“Thanks to increased donor support, UQ Sport is able to provide academic, financial and sport-specific assistance to considerably more student-athletes, allowing them to achieve their sporting goals without compromising their study.
“2017’s group, selected from a field of hundreds of top-level athletes, are outstanding representatives for UQ, and we wish them every success.”
Scholarship holders benefit from access to UQ Sport’s health and fitness facilities, as well as athlete workshops, academic liaison, support and tutoring – all delivered through the UQ Sport Academy.
Australian artistic gymnast and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student Michael Mercieca said his UQ Sports Achievement Scholarship would ease the financial burden of attending international events.
“Competition experience is vital to learning and success, and UQ’s financial support will greatly assist me in achieving my sporting goals of competing on the world stage at the Commonwealth Games and Olympics,” Mr Mercieca said.
Women accounted for more than half (30) of the scholarships.
Queensland Rugby Sevens representative Meg Gemmell said scholarship support assisted with her transition to university life.
“My UQ Sports Achievement Scholarship allows me to live on campus, with support networks never far away,” Ms Gemmell said.
“It has also reduced financial pressure, enabling me to concentrate on my degree and rugby without needing to find employment during study terms.”
UQ Sports Achievement Scholarship Committee Chair Associate Professor Philip Bodman said elite student-athletes were ideal role models for all students.
“These top-level sportsmen and women face enormous commitments on their time and resources, and they should be commended for their level of dedication to both tertiary education and professional sport,” Dr Bodman said.
“2017’s group is our largest ever and they join a long, prestigious list of elite student-athletes who have represented UQ”.
Clem Jones Sporting Scholarship Committee Chair Professor Andrew Cresswell said it was inspiring to see a diverse range of sports represented.
“The vision, enthusiasm and energy of the late Clem Jones AO made him a commanding force in many sporting projects, and I am sure he would have been delighted to see the outstanding performances of this year’s winners across such a broad assortment of sports,” Professor Cresswell said.
“On behalf of the Clem Jones Sporting Scholarship Committee, I wish all the recipients the very best in their pursuit of sporting and academic excellence.”