Student-athletes recognised at 2018 Blues and Sport Awards
20 November; Liam Petterson and Tom Lutwyche
139 University student-athletes were recognised for their 2018 sporting achievements at the Blues and Sport Awards, held in the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre, Arts West on Friday 16 November.
Blues awards were presented to 91 student-athletes based on their performances representing the University, while 63 student-athletes were presented with an International Representation award in recognition of their selection on the international stage.
On the night Don Knapp, CEO of UniSport Australia, conferred the University with the John Campbell Trophy for Southern Region Champions at Nationals Division 1 in recognition of the University's eight national titles in what was an exceptional year in sport at the University of Melbourne.
Alumna and 6-time Blues recipient Phoebe Stanley (Rowing) delivered an inspiring keynote speech exploring the difficulties she faced in balancing study and elite rowing whilst working towards her Bachelor of Science and subsequently Doctor of Optometry. Blues Advisory Group members Alice McNamara and Tony Steele presented Blues recipients with their awards, followed by Professor Emeritus James Angus who presented International Representation awards and major awards.
These major awards recognise outstanding performances by student-athletes, officials and teams representing the University in 2018:
Outstanding Sporting Achievement of the Year
Bachelor of Science student Jemima Montag claimed the 2018 Outstanding Sporting Achievement of the Year award. Jemima had a remarkable 2018 winning the Gold Medal in the 20 kilometre walk at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Starting little athletics at the age of 8, Jemima has always loved competition, demonstrating this with her upset over a world-class field to take the Gold Medal at her home-Games. In between her elite training and competition commitments, Jemima managed to find time to return to the scene of her win on the Gold Coast to represent the University at the 2018 University Nationals, where she won the Gold Medal – beating both Women’s and Men’s fields in the 5 Kilometre Walk event. Consequently, she was awarded her first Blue for the University.
Female Athlete of the Year
The Female Athlete of the Year award went to Master of Management student Xi Xi from Women's Volleyball. In a team sport, Xi Xi was the competition’s dominant player and much of the team’s success at Nationals can be attributed to her efforts and abilities, where her experience, discipline and skill stood out from almost everyone else in the competition. She provided leadership and guidance for the team and had an uncanny ability to win countless points throughout the week. Whilst one player does not make a team, Xi Xi’s dominance was clear; when the team called on her to win points she was able to do so, demonstrating outstanding skills with a very low error percentage. Her hitting power was a clear sign of intimidation to opposition players who were on the receiving end.
Nominees: Katrina Anderson (Athletics), Elizabeth Hedding (Athletics), Lee Yen Khoo (Badminton), Xi Xi (Volleyball).
Male Athlete of the Year
The Male Athlete of the Year award went to Bachelor of Science student Edward Fitzgerald. Representing the University for the third time, and also picking up his third Blue, Edward was the competition’s most outstanding fencer and was a significant contributor to the team winning two individual gold medals in the Foil and Epee at Nationals. He was also a key member of the Foil, Epee and Sabre teams that picked up two gold and a silver. Considering that all high-level fencers specialise in one weapon, winning the individual competitions for two separate weapons is highly unusual and an exceptional achievement. It is safe to say that without the performance of Edward, who is also an Australian representative, the University would have faced an uphill battle defending its National title.
Nominees: John Dupont (Hockey), Edward Fitzgerald (Fencing), Ashwant Gobinathan (Badminton), Shawn Ingle (Rugby 7s).
Team of the Year
The Team of the Year for 2018 was tied between Men’s and Women’s Tennis. 2017 was a challenging year for both teams on and off the court, which is what makes the turnaround for both teams to win National Championships in 2018 truly outstanding. Given the quality of the Tennis competition at Nationals, it is a rare occasion for both teams from a University to win the National Title at the same time. The dedication from all players, the club, the coach and partner University Tennis Academy was admirable, particularly the 10-week training program that involved nutrition, strength and conditioning in the lead up to Nationals. The Women crushed all opponents before them, remaining undefeated throughout the tournament, and the Men’s team flipped the script in the final, overcoming local rival RMIT University after losing to them in the pool games. Showing the difficulty of how hard it is to win a Tennis title, let alone two, this was only the University’s third National Tennis Championship for the Men and Women, with the previous wins coming in 2012 for the Men, 2004 for the Women, and way back in 1990 for both teams.
Coach of the Year
The Coach of the Year award went to Tennis coach Junaid Hossain. Junaid was an outstanding coach from the moment the team began the Uni Nationals selection process. He supported the team in every way possible, was open with his communication and was there when the team members needed him. Particularly impressive was the 10-week training program that included strength, conditioning and nutrition which was put in place for the team pre-tournament. He was recognised by the team as a leader who demonstrated great integrity and professionalism both on and off the court. The amount of energy, effort and time he put into helping the team earned him great respect. The team credits Junaid's support and guidance before and during the tournament as the biggest factor as to why they achieved the results they did.
Nominees: Mitchell Broom (Women's Volleyball), Will Fleming (Men's Volleyball), Junaid Hossein (Men's and Women's Tennis), John Kanis (Men's Australian Rules), Dimitry Leszczynski (Men's Rugby 7s).
Team Manager of the Year
The Team Manager of the Year award went to Juris Doctor student Abbey McNally for her work managing the Women’s Netball team in the inaugural Varsity Challenge Cup. Abbey was determined to take the University's Netball team back to the top, working diligently with the coach to recruit the University’s best netballers. She sent countless messages and made endless phone calls, all to ensure the best team was available, well-drilled and prepared to take on their opponents. Abbey’s passion and dedication was always the ultimate success for her team and for the University, and ensured that, above all, the team enjoyed themselves and represented the University with pride. She performed her role with professionalism and this was evident to all that interacted with her.
Nominees: Ebru Efe (Women's Football), Jason Mackway (Men's Water Polo), Abbey McNally (Women's Netball).