There were 71 Australian medallists who returned home victorious from Rio yesterday. Australia won eight gold medal events, with a total of 82 medals awarded to Australia (including multiple medals to the same athletes). Student-athletes were responsible for 61% of the total medals won across 10 sports - representing the majority of medallists.
It was one of the must successful Olympics for student-athletes in recent history, only outdone by London 2012 in which 63% of the medals distributed were won by student-athletes. Studying and training is becoming the new norm, and is providing a great pathway for Olympians.
Australian University Sport CEO Don Knapp attributed the performance of Australia's student-athletes to the support pathways created by elite student-athlete programs at Australian universities.
“Many of our member universities facilitate dual career education through scholarships which enable student-athletes to pursue elite sporting careers, complete tertiary education and maintain a healthy balance."
“Research shows student-athletes selected to Australian Olympic teams win a higher percentage of medals on a pro-rata basis – an achievement Australian University Sport and its 42 member universities is very proud of,” Knapp said.
Of the 42 student-athlete medallists, seven were former Australian Uniroos, and three competed most recently in the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade. Trap shooter Catherine Skinner (RMIT University) lead the pack collecting a gold medal, one of only eight gold medals for Australia in Rio. Skinner was the flagbearer at the 2015 Summer Universiade. Dane Bird-Smith (The University of Queensland) took home one of only two athletics medals for Australia, walking his way to bronze in the 20km race walk. Anabelle Smith (Australian Catholic University) competed alongside student-athlete Maddison Keeney (The University of Queensland) in synchronised diving and took home a bronze medal.
The Summer Universiade is proving to be a great opportunity for athletes to gain experience and training on the world stage in preparation for the Olympics.