Sydney University sends team of 17 to Athens Olympics

27 July 2004

The University of Sydney will have representatives in sports including basketball, water polo, canoeing, swimming, wheelchair athletics and rhythmic gymnastics at the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Athens during August and September. As students their academic disciplines range from chemistry to philosophy.

The 16 athletes and one coach selected for Australian representation is the University's second-largest Olympic contingent (after the Sydney 2000 Olympics) since sprinter Nigel Barker was selected for the Australian team at the 1904 St Louis Olympic Games.

The athletes include 2003 Sydney University Sportswoman of the Year, diver Loudy Tourky (Arts/Media) who will be contesting her third successive Olympic Games and Sydney Uni Flame, Belinda Snell who will represent Australia in the women's basketball along with Flames' coach and assistant Australian coach, Karen Dalton.

Sydney University Water Polo Club is maintaining its strong Olympic tradition with the selection of five players for the men's and women's water polo teams. Trent Franklin (Commerce), Sam McGregor (Commerce), Nathan Thomas and Thomas Whalan (Commerce/Law) - all members of the Sydney University Lions in the National Water Polo League - have been selected in the Australian men's team while Elise Norwood (Physiotherapy) was selected in the women's team which is defending its 2000 Olympic gold medal.

Wheelchair track star Angela Ballard, 21, a commerce student , and wheelchair basketballer Sarah Stewart who is working towards a PhD in philosophy are confirmed for the Paralympic team.

Also confirmed to represent Australia are swimmers Elka Graham and Michelle Engelsman (Science); rower Kyeema Doyle (Science); canoeists Lachie Milne (Medicine); Louise Natoli (Social Work) and Robin Bell (Economics) and rhythmic gymnast Penny Blackmore (Arts).

Most of the athletes selected are on Sydney University Sport scholarships or scholarships through the university's affiliation with the NSW Institute of Sport.

"Many of these students have been performing on the national and international stage since the Sydney Olympics and I'm thrilled they have achieved their goal of representing Australia at Athens while continuing with their studies," said Angela Harris, athlete services manager at Sydney University Sport.

Most of the athletes have already left Australia for final training preparations and acclimatisation before the Olympic Games begin in Athens on August 13. Biographical details of the athletes selected are attached.

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Sydney University Team for Athens 2004
    Loudy Tourky, a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) student, is a definite medal chance for Athens having qualified for selection when she won gold in the 10m platform at three consecutive FINA diving Grand Prix in Canada, Mexico and America during 2003 and collected her 7th consecutive Australian 10m platform title. Tourky has also competed at two Commonwealth Games, finishing out of the medals in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and winning gold in the 10m platform at the 2002 Manchester Games.
    Elka Graham missed out on an individual berth in the 200m freestyle at the national championships, an event she has dominated at the Australian titles for the past three years. But she made up for the disappointment by finishing second to Linda Mackenzie in the 400m freestyle.

    Graham, holds the second fastest time by an Australian over the distance at 4:08.60, but her second placing and time at the Australian titles earned her an individual berth. She will also swim in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

    As an 18-year-old, Graham contested the 4x200m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics as a heat swimmer. She then converted years of promise into medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester where she won silver in the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 200m freestyle.
    The Athens Olympics can't come around fast enough for Michelle Engelsman.

    The Brian Sutton-coached Sydney University swimmer, along with team-mate Elka Graham, was selected in the Australian team after a tough week at the national championships.

    Engelsman, a Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship holder for 2003, had been training overseas for six months to contest the 50m freestyle. She returned to be confronted by two speedsters in Queenslanders Lisbeth Lenton and Jodie Henry.

    With world-class times behind them in the 100m, they provided solid opposition for Engelsman in the 50m final, but the Sydney University swimmer showed her class by grabbing second place behind Lenton and a berth for her first Olympic Games. The final saw Lenton set a new Australian Open record of 24.70sec to edge out Engelsman (24.80) and Henry (24.92).
    Kyeema Doyle, a 2004 Blues Association Scholarship holder, was selected in the women's eight to train in Australia before departing for Europe on 12 June in preparation for the Athens Olympic Games. The Australians will compete at the Lucerne World Cup before going into a training camp for the Games, which will commence on August 13. Doyle, 22, won gold medals as a member of the Australian Under 23 pair at the 2002 World Rowing Championships in Genoa, and the four at the 2003 World Cup in Lucerne.
    Wheelchair track star Angela Ballard, a commerce student and Sports Scholarship-holder will be hoping to improve on her performances at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics where she finished 4th in 100m, 4th in 800m, 5th in 200m and 6th in 400m wheelchair track events. The 21-year-old Ballard was named in a squad of 38 athletes following the National Championships in Sydney. She set her sights on Athens, 2004, after winning the 100m track event at the 2002 World Championships in France.
    Sarah Stewart, a 2004 Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship holder who is working towards a PhD in philosophy, was drafted into the Australian Gliders in 2003 after emerging with the best new talent award from the 2002 Women's National Wheelchair Basketball season. A talented forward or centre, she cemented her position in the Gliders during the Australian's 2003 tour to the United States, where they played a triangular tournament with the hosts and Canada.

    Despite losing 36-46 to the US and 39-46 to Canada, the Gliders returned home knowing they could mix it with the best in the world. Stewart backed up her 2003 form with selection in the Australian team for an International Women's Challenge, played at Shellharbour in March. The Gliders honed their form for Athens with matches against Japan and Mexico.
    Lachie Milne can vouch for the adage that dreams really do come true. He has been working towards an Olympic Games berth for almost a decade. Now in the second year of a degree in medicine, the 25-year-old Milne won a Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship for 2004 to encourage his pursuits of strong academic results and canoeing at the highest level. And the level doesn't get much higher than the Olympics.

    Although he has been canoeing for many years, Milne only took up the canoe kayak slalom (C2), when he teamed up with Mark Bellofiore, an accounting student at UTS, 18 months ago. Their rise up the rankings was dramatic when they became the highest placed Australian crew at every World Cup regatta during the season.

    Their fourth placing at the first C2 World Cup event of 2003 was the best ever Australian C2 result. They backed that up with 10th at the second regatta, held in Spain and 19th at the 2003 World Championships in Germany, to finish the year at 10th on the overall world rankings.
    Louise Natoli achieved one of her driving ambitions when she won selection in the Australian canoe slalom team to contest the Athens Olympic Games.

    The 25-year-old social work student secured an Olympic berth at the Athens World Cup and Olympic Qualification event.

    Natoli and fellow Australians Mia Farrance and Victoria Milne went into the regatta without a guaranteed place in the K1 Ladies class at the Olympics, so their first task was to secure a berth for Australia. Natoli performed best and finished well ahead of her team-mates in the world-class field. Her 12th position in the semi-final was a personal best at a major international race, and good enough to get Australia to the Games, and herself in the Olympic team.

    Natoli said selection for the Olympics was one of her main ambitions. She also wants to be ranked No.1 in Australia and make the finals at every World Cup event. She has been a member of the Australian team since 1996 as well as being a member of the Australian Junior team between 1994-97.

    Natoli finished 19th at the 2002 World Championships, the same year she was awarded a Sydney University Blue.
    Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Bell came to Australia at a young age and took up canoeing as a 15-year-old in Perth. He competed for the West Australia Institute of Sport before moving east to link up with the Australian Institute of Sport and the University of Sydney.

    Sports Scholarship holder, Robin Bell, won an Olympic berth after impressive performances at the Athens World Cup and Olympic qualification regatta, held in Athens in April.

    Australia had already been guaranteed a place in the C1 Men's class going into the Athens race, and the competition was between Bell, Kynan Maley (also a Sydney Uni Sport scholarship holder) and Justin Boocock for a position on the Olympic team.

    The decider came down to the final run of the day, when one second separated Bell and Maley, who was holding third position in the world-class field. But with experience up his sleeve and the Olympic position within reach, Bell charged ahead to finish fourth, beating Maley by four seconds.

    Bell's overall fourth place at the championships puts him in great contention for a medal at Athens.

    His aim since taking up the sport has been to finish in the top eight at the World Championship and compete in the Olympic Games. He achieved the first when he won a silver medal at the 1999 World Championships and the second with his Athens selection. An Olympic medal would ice the cake.
    The men's team will be spearheaded by six 2000 Olympians, Nathan Thomas, Craig Miller, Gavin Woods, Thomas Whalan, Rafael Sterk and Tim Neesham.
    Three members played in the Australian team at last year's Junior World Championships in Italy – goalkeeper James Stanton, Pietro Figlioli and Sam McGregor who turns 20 the day before the Olympics open.
    2nd, FINA World Junior Championships, Kuwait City, 1999
    2nd, Australian National League, 1998
    3rd, Australian National League 1999
    3rd, Australian National League 2000
    1st, Australian National League 2002
    2nd, Commonwealth Championships, Manchester, England, 2002
    1st, Australian National League 2003
    7th, FINA World Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 2003
    3rd, World Student Games, Daegu, South Korea, 2003
    7th, FINA World Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 2003
    9th, FINA Junior Men's World Championships, Naples, Italy, 2003
    1st, Australian National League 2003
    3rd, World Student Games, Daegu, South Korea, 2003
    3rd, FINA World Cup, Athens, 1993
    3rd, World Student Games, Fukuoka, 1995
    3rd, World Student Games, Palermo, 1997
    4th, FINA World Championships, Perth, 1998
    8th, FINA World Cup, Sydney, 1999
    1st, Spanish King's Cup, Barcelona, 1998
    8th, Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
    10th, World Championships, Fukuoka, 2001
    7th, World Championships, Barcelona 2003
    1st, Australian National League 2003
    2nd, World Junior Championships, Kuwait City, Kuwait, 1999
    8th, FINA World Cup, Sydney, 1999
    8th, Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
    10th, FINA World Championships, Fukuoka, Japan, 2001
    2nd, Commonwealth Championships, Manchester, England, 2002
    1st, Spanish Super Cup with Atletic Barceloneta, 2003
    7th, FINA World Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 2003
    3rd, World Student Games, Daegu, South Korea, 2003
    1st, Australian National League 2003
    1st, Spanish King's Cup with Atletico Barceloneta, Spain, 2004
    2nd, FINA World Junior Championships, Perth, Australia, 2001
    1st, Commonwealth Championships, Manchester, England, 2002
    6th FINA World Cup, Perth, Australia, 2002
    7th, FINA World Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 2003
    2004 Pacific Alliance Championships: 5th - All Around
    2004 Juliette Shishmanova Tournament: 10th - All Around
    2004 National Championships: 1st - All Around
    2003 National Championships: 1st - All Around
    2003 World Championships: 24th - All Around
    2003 36th Intl RG Tournament - Bourgas: 18th - All Around
    2002 National Championships: 3rd - All Around
    2002 Commonwealth Championships: 2nd - Team
    2001 National Championships: 6th - All Around
    2004 WNBL: 2nd Sydney Uni Flames
    2004 MVP of the final of the World Challenge
    2003 FIBA Oceania Basketball Championships: Australia win series vs. NZL
    2003 Europe Tour: 2001 East Asian Games: 2nd - Australian team
    2001 WNBL: 1st Sydney Flames
    2000 WNBL: 1st Sydney Flames