Largest-ever contingent of University of Sydney Olympians goes for gold in London

27 July 2012

At just 18-years-old, Jess Fox is our youngest Olympian.
At just 18-years-old, Jess Fox is our youngest Olympian.

More than 30 University of Sydney athletes - students, graduates and sports club members - are preparing to represent Australia at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, the University's largest-ever representation at the world's biggest sporting event.

The first University of Sydney Olympians in action take to the water on Saturday evening (Australian time) in the men's rowing eight, which includes five members of Sydney University Boat Club. The team are strong medal contenders after they placed second at the final major regatta before the Olympics in Munich last month.

A further five University of Sydney Olympians are rowing in other boats in London, while our athletes are also competing for Australia in basketball, cycling, diving, hockey, kayak and canoe, modern pentathlon and water polo. Seven more will compete in athletics, basketball, goalball and swimming at the Paralympics, which run for 12 days from Wednesday 29 August. Most of them are current or former holders of scholarships awarded through the Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness Elite Athlete Program (EAP).

Our youngest Olympian in London is EAP scholarship holder Jess Fox. The first-year media and communications student is about to represent Australia in canoe/kayak, following in the footsteps of her mother and father who previously competed in the same sport for France and the UK respectively.

"I always had my mind set on studying at Sydney Uni for its prestige," 18-year-old Jess said before leaving for London. "It also has the best sports programs and support for athletes."

Another EAP scholarship holder, Matthew Mitcham, is hoping to repeat his gold-medal-winning success at the Beijing Olympics. Matthew enrolled at Sydney after Beijing, but says the University's support has been really important in his sporting career.

"I couldn't have done it without Sydney Uni," Matthew told us from London. "I feel immense pride to say I'm halfway through my degree at Sydney."

Law and commerce graduate Thomas Whalan is about to compete in his fourth Olympic Games as part of the men's water polo team. Together with diver Loudy Wiggins, an arts graduate, he will join Liane Tooth (hockey) and Peter Montgomery (water polo) as the only University of Sydney Olympians to have competed in four or more Olympics.

However our Olympics participation is not limited to competitors: our graduates are among the thousands of journalists covering the games while law alumnus John Coates is heading to his sixth summer Olympic Games as President of the Australian Olympic Committee.

"To become an Olympian or Paralympian is a considerable honour - one that will remain with you throughout your life," said Coates in a message to the University's 2012 Olympians before he flew to London last week.

"As members of the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Teams, you inherit a splendid tradition. As students or graduates from the University of Sydney you are continuing a further and select tradition as representatives of our great University.

"Sydney Uni has always played an important role in Australia's sporting life, and it continues to nurture some of our stars of the future, both in the classroom and on the playing field."

The University of Sydney's first Olympian was selected in 1904, and we expect the total number of University of Sydney Olympians to rise to 139 athletes by the end of the London Olympics and Paralympics.

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Enquiries: Ben Wilson, 9351 6753, 0402 128 073,