The University’s outstanding student-athletes were recognised with the awarding of sport Blues and other awards at a gala presentation Friday 21 November. 122 student-athletes were recognised for their sporting achievement whilst representing the University in 2014 with the awarding of a Blue, while 43 student-athletes were also recognised for their representation on the international sporting stage during the year.
Blues were presented by special guest Dr Geoffrey Vaughan, a Blue for rugby (1957, 1959 and 1960) and one of only three University alumni to have been capped as a Wallaby representing Australia in Test match rugby union. Other guest presenters included Professor Field Rickards (Rowing Blue 1970), Dean of the Graduate School of Education who presented the Vice-Chancellor’s Elite athlete certificates for international representation; while Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Richard James (multiple Australian athletics representative and national 100m champion in 1980) presented the University Sport Team of the Year, the Male and Female Athlete of the Year as well as the Outstanding Sporting Achievement of the Year.
Guests were officially welcomed to the presentation by Director of Sport Mr Tim Lee. Mr Lee reflected on the outstanding sporting results by the University’s student-athletes at the Australian University Games and other stand-alone national championships, as well as in the rivalry events of the Varsity Challenge versus Monash University and the Australian Boat Race versus the University of Sydney.
“We are often reminded that competing at a Games or Championships are amongst the fondest memories that our students have of their time at University”, said Mr Lee.
“And it is from opportunities sport provides, that young men and women can develop a sense of teamwork, fair play and leadership – all qualities that coincidentally, employers are looking for when recruiting graduates out of university”, he added.
Mr Lee also went on to recognise the important role that coaches, sport administrators, family and friends play in the development of an athlete. Sports Association President Ms Margot Foster also addressed the event with a brief history of Blues and some of the notable alumni who had received the award from the University including former Governors of Victoria John Landy and Sir James Gobbo and Olympic Champion Peter Antonie.
The 122 Blues were awarded from the 1,162 student-athletes that represented the University of Melbourne in some 74 teams during 2014. This participation resulted in the University winning ten Australian University Championships during the year in men’s Australian Rules Football,men’s and women’s Badminton, men’s Cycling, men’s Distance Running, women’s Fencing, women’s Golf, women’s Orienteering, women’s Snow Sports,and Ultimate Frisbee. While many Blues recipients were receiving awards for the very first time, some student-athletes were receiving re-awards from their years of outstanding contribution and achievement. Remarkably, Luke Chong (Doctor of Optometry) received his eighth Blue for Badminton having first represented the University in 2006 and wining five national titles and eight Green and Gold team selections along the way. Ross Mueller was also presented his second award for Cycling having won his first Blue back in 1997 – a gap of 17 years between Blues!
Of the 43 Vice-Chancellor’s Elite Athlete certificates presented for international representation, notable selections included four student-athletes representing Australia at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Games – Katya Crema (Property), Mitchell Gourley (Paralympics – Commerce), Anton Grimus (Engineering) and Brodie Summers (Environments). Seven student-athletes also represented the University and Australia in World University Championships including Luke Chong (Optometry), Wung Lin Mak (Commerce) and Rojini Selladurai (Commerce) who all competed in Badminton; Elena Galiabovitch (Medicine) competed in Pistol Shooting; Luke Gillies (Commerce) competed in Karate; Mitchell James (Education) competed in Archery; and Todd Neve (Science) competed in Orienteering.
The Australian Rules Football team was recognised as the University Sport Team of the Year. The footballers defeated the University of Western Australian to win the gold at the Australian University Games in Sydney by a solitary goal in the dying minutes of the game. The team had previously accounted for local rivals Monash, RMIT and Victoria University in comfortable fashion in the preliminary games. The victory was the team’s fifth national title in the past ten years. The Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to Snow Sport’s Anton Grimus (Engineering) for his four gold medals at the Australian University Championships at Mt Buller. Grimus won the Alpine Slalom, Giant Slalom Super G and Ski Cross and was also named Male Alpine Skier of the Championship. The Female Athlete of the Year was awarded to first year student Hayley Baker (Arts) who won six gold medals in Swimming at the Australian University Games in Sydney. Baker won the 50m, 100m and 200m Backstroke (all in new Games’ records), the 200m Freestyle, 200m Individual Medley and was part of the women’s 4x50m Freestyle gold medal winning relay.
The final award for the evening was presented for the Outstanding Sporting Achievement of the Year. Besides the plethora of outstanding achievements highlighted throughout the evening, a number of other sporting successes during 2014 would be considered. These included Alex Rowe (Biomedicine) equalling Australia’s longest-standing athletics record for the 800m (set at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games when alumni Ralph Doubell won gold); Will Langford (Environments) becoming an AFL Premiership player as part of Hawthorn’s AFL grand-final winning team; and Joanna Weston (Commerce) also tasting national league success with the Melbourne Vixens in netball’s ANZ Championship. In the end, it was two-time Winter Olympian Katya Crema (Property) who was recognised as the Outstanding Sporting Achievement of the Year for her Ski Cross season of personal bests which culminated in her reaching the Small Final of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games and eventually finishes 7th against the world’s best skiers.
To view the complete list of Blues and other award recipients, please click here to view our 2014 commemorative brochure