Sport, study & satisfaction: Deakin students at the 2018 Commonwealth games

Harry Boyle traveled to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast. He caught-up with six Deakin University students competing in the games to find out what drives them to mix study and sport.

Alex Eade

A self-claimed surprise performance from Deakin University Biomedical student Alex Eade, sees her win Gold at the Commonwealth Games.

The gymnast who won Gold in the floor event at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was overcome with emotion after her performance, comparing it to ‘studying really hard for a test and then getting an A’.

Alex says that she wasn’t even expecting a medal at these games, but pulling off a surprise performance especially after nearly quitting the sport a few years ago made it sweeter.

Alex expressed gratitude for Deakin’s support saying: “they care about my ambitions and also my studies… I can’t put into words how helpful Deakin has been”.

Competing in gymnastics is usually a short window of time, so being able to chase her dreams while also being able to set-up her future is important to Alex.

She said she also enjoys the balance between studying and competing as it clears her mind.

Studying Biomedical science has actually helped Eade as learning about body systems, lactic acid, fuels and food has made her a better gymnast.

Alex thanked Deakin’s Elite Sports Precinct Coordinator Jack Duke, for his help in the lead up to the games and for congratulatory email he sent straight after she won gold.

Alex is loving studying at Deakin and hopes to continue to her studies and move into medicine.

Luke Mathews

Deakin University student Luke Mathews claimed a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in stylish fashion.

Luke, who is studying a double degree in Law and Commerce (finance), wrote his name into the record books winning a bronze medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for the 800-meters running event.

Sitting in 6thposition with 50-meters left, he was able to sprint his way into bronze, finishing in 1:45.60, a seasons best. He also competed the 1500-meter, running 3:47.04.

After competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the World Championships in 2017, Mathews next goal is to race at the Commonwealth Games, especially as its on home soil and winning a medal was a dream come true.

Tertiary education has always been a goal of Luke’s, but as a full-time athlete he speaks about a tough balance between competing and studying. He praises Deakin flexibility for helping him to finish a degree while doing a professional sport.

“Two years in a row I was in transit when I was preparing for the Olympics,” Luke said. “I was in between Stockholm and Oslo and my coach was able to supervise my exams. This year I was in the Netherlands and he supervised again. If that wasn’t the case I would have had to defer the whole year”.

“They’ve let me achieve my goals, all while completing a degree”

Luke said his studies had helped him become a better speaker and well-rounded athlete: “Doing a course like commerce and law, you’re forced to write well and present top of the line kind of work. On top of that it’s made me a well-rounded individual because there’s a huge ego thing in sport, where university has kept me well rounded.”

Luke gives particularly high-praise to Deakin’s Elite Sports Precinct Coordinator, Jack Duke, saying he’s made studying and competing an easy journey. He also thanks all Deakin staff and students for their on-going support.

With the goal of running until at least 2024, and ambitions of running at the Tokyo and then Paris Olympics, Mathews knows that there’s a life after running. He is considering a commerce, such as working in an investment firm. Nevertheless, he will always be involved in athletics as either a coach or mentor as he sees it as his duty to give back.

With an insider’s perspective staying in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games Villages, Luke says there’s no real secrets.

“There’s always something happening, there’s always a buzz”. Everyone knows what its roughly going to be like, but it’s something you can’t explain until you’ve been there.”

Madi Ratcliffe

Hockeyroo striker and Deakin University student Madi Ratcliffe’s team fall short as New Zealand won gold but they cam away with silver.

The deciding match for women’s hockey at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games saw New Zealand win 4-1 over Australia.

Now a silver medallist and regular inclusion in the Hockeyroos squad, Madi is studying commerce at Deakin University.

The down-to-earth cloud student has had lifelong ambitions to play for the Hockeyroos with her ultimate goal to win gold for her country and will continue to work hard to achieve this.

After a “hard slog of preseason training” Madi was ecstatic when she was selected in the Hockyroos squad as she “always wanted to compete at the Commonwealth Games and especially because it was at home”

Madi commended Deakin support as their flexibility in her studies allowed her to chase her dreams and thanked her teachers for an extension on an assignment while she competes at the games.

“I enjoy studying as it gets her out of the hockey bubble,” Madi said.“It’s something else to focus on, it takes my mind away from hockey and it’s quite an outlet; its setting me up for a transition into real life”

Brooke Stratton:

Deakin University Student Brooke Stratton, jumped her way to a silver Commonwealth Games Medal.

The long-jumper who has been studying at Deakin for the past 6-years, against all-odds was able to win a silver medal at the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth games.

Back in October 2017, Brooke had a stress fracture in the heel of the ball of her foot, placing her foot in a moon-boot and asking questions whether she would be fit to compete at the games.
This is not the only bad-timing injury as in 2014 she missed the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, from a stress fracture in her back.

In the lead up to the recent games doctors and physios gave Brooke a slim chance of competing, “but I proved them wrong and made my way onto the team” she said.

“After winning the silver medal, there obviously was a lot of feelings. I just burst into tears, the support from my family and friends just made me emotional… there was a lot of emotion attached with that medal.”

Brooke currently has a scholarship with Deakin University, to help her fund her dream and she’d like to “thank Deakin for their ongoing support, which has made me a better athlete”

“The teachers have been understanding, and that’s why I love studying at Deakin”

The Health Science student makes links to her studies and being a better athlete as learning about rehab, nutrition and the importance of sleep are things she’s incorporated into her sporting life.

There has been great support towards Brooke, as she points out Andrew Crowley and past teacher Julia Walsh as people who have been very supportive. “it’s nice to know that some teachers are following my journey”, as she thanks all Deakin staff.

Callum Scotson

Processional racing cyclist Callum Scotson, does Deakin University and his country proud.

Road cyclist Callum Scotson Finished 4thin the time trial at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but was ecstatic for his team mate who won gold.

The Arts/Commerce student and Silver Olympic medallist was proud of his efforts at the games and can’t wait for his journey ahead.

This event was Callum’s first event as a road cycling senior and for him “it made it really exciting”.

As a professional cyclist Callum speaks about his struggles of not being able to attend week-in-week-out Uni classes, as he spends a lot of his time in Europe and praises Deakin’s online learning.

“I saw and heard from friends that Deakin has a good online system, and that really drew me to study here”, he said.

Callum is currently majoring in Spanish for his Arts degree, and sees the importance as “there’s a good chance as a cyclist that I’ll end up in Spain, and in almost any team there will be someone who only speaks Spanish, there is no doubt this will be helpful for my future”

The proactive student who likes to keep a balanced life style, thanks Deakin for their flexibility and mentions Jack Duke as someone who has always been a lot of help.

“Racing in front of massive crowds who you knew were cheering you on” was the highlight of Callum’s Games.

Matt Haanappel

Deakin University’s Para-Athlete Matt Haanappel, makes the final in the Men S7 50-meter freestyle.

Matt who finished 6that the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, loved competing on home soil as this was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

In previous Commonwealth games the S7 50-meter freestyle wasn’t included, but Matt says: “it’s great that they’ve adding event for para-athletes” and when it was included at the recent games he thought to himself “let’s give this a shot”.

Matt has Cerebral Palsy and trains roughly 7 days a week and swim around 40kms which he says is an incredible distance for someone with his disability.

“I loved the support from everyone around me including friends, family and even Deakin made it special” he said.

“Deakin does a fantastic job for me as not only an elite athlete, but also someone who has a disability… I encourage anyone who isn’t a part of these faculties, and qualifies, to definitely use their services.”

With swimming being a strong passion, Matt’s next big aim is to represent Australia at the 2020 Olympic Tokyo Games, however wants to swim in the 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle as the 50-meter isn’t available at these games.

While at the games, Matt says there was two moments that stood out to him:

  1. Competing for Australia with the Australian swimming cap on
  2. Being cheered on by your own country “is spine tingling, it gave me goose bumps to be Australian… hearing Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi was an amazing out of body experience”.

Matt’s goal is to finish his Business (sports management) degree which will coincide with him retiring from swimming, and as a current school’s sport ambassador he has a passion for working in this sector.

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