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Five medal haul for athletics on final night in Naples and Denny feasts on discus gold.

Updated: Mar 17




The UniRoos capped off a successful Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade with a tremendous final night of athletics, winning five medals in an action-packed night of competition.


Darling Downs thrower Matthew Denny (Griffith University) nabbed the UniRoos fourth athletics gold, winning the men’s discus final with a throw of 65.27m. The Commonwealth Games silver medallist went one better than his 2015 Universiade silver, blitzing the field finishing over one and a half metres clear of silver medallist Alin-Alexandru Firfirica of Romania (63.74). 


Denny, who does much of his training in a circle on his farm in Allora, admitted there were a few things he needed to work on going into the final but a simple fix before his round five best gave him the extra impetus he needed.


“It was a good start, I was happy with how I came out, but we were just missing that little bit,” Denny admitted.


“Literally all it was is I just had to sit down for a little bit, then I got some leverage under it.”

“That was probably the biggest throw I’ve ever done in my life. Yeah it was 10cm short of my PB (65.37m) but it was two different throws. One was with wind and one was in a stadium so that’s awesome.”


“It’s funny, I didn’t think that was going to be the best throw and then it just floated, but I’m just glad I did it in a stadium with still conditions and under pressure.”


Going into the final night of athletics  with 12 medals for the UniRoos it didn’t take long to add a 13th with the women’s 4x100m relay team of Abbie Taddeo (Australian College of Physical Education), Nana Owusu-Afriyie (Deakin University), Riley Day (Griffith University) and Celeste Mucci (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) claiming silver in the first track event of the night. The team finished in a time of 43.97, bettering their heats time of 44.28 and giving them the second fastest time by an Australian team for the season, only behind the Australian team that reached the final of the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama in May. They finished behind Switzerland (43.72) and ahead of New Zealand (44.24). 


Australia was back on the podium a short time later after Georgia Griffith (Monash University) finished second in the women’s 1500m in a time of 4:09.89 behind Caterina Granz of Germany  in 4:09.14 and ahead of Courtney Hufsmith (CAN) in 4:11.81 to grab Australia’s second silver medal of the night. 


After leading the race for the majority of the final, Griffith said she did everything she could to hang on to the lead.


“It was tough,” Griffith said.


“It was a very hard last two laps, my legs got quite heavy. I really tried to kick at the end but the winner Granz was just too strong.”


The medals didn’t stop there with Australia’s fourth medal for the night coming with bronze in the women’s 4x400m relay with Genevieve Cowie (University of Sydney), Morgan Mitchell (CollArts), Jessie Stafford (University of Sydney) and Gabriella O’Grady (University of Technology Sydney) who finished in a time of 3:34.01 after a stunning final leg from O’Grady who held off Poland in the fight for a podium position. 


Ukraine won the gold (3:30.82) with Mexico (3:32.63) in second. 


“We were absolutely knackered going into that one, but it is amazing what adrenaline can do and it was just so much fun,” Gabriella O’Grady said.


“It was an amazing experience to run for your country and to run with such experienced girls as Morgs (Morgan Mitchell) and Bella (Gabriella O’Grady),” said Jessie Stafford after her first international competition.


In the final event of the athletics competition, the men’s long jump, Darcy Roper (RMIT University) and Chris Mitrevski (RMIT University) went toe-to-toe with Roper coming out with Australia’s 16th and final medal of the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade finishing with the bronze with a jump of 7.90m. 


Yuki Hashioka of Japan won with  8.01m with Yamn Randrianasolo of France in second with 7.95m Mitrevski finished close behind in 5th with a best leap of 7.84. 


"It was a good effort considering the circumstances," Roper said. 


"It was my third weekend of competition in a row so could only manage three jumps but I had a lot of fun.”


The final medal resulted in the UniRoos athletics team ending with 10 medals, four gold, four silver and two bronze medals – equal to the gold medal tally from Belgrade in 2009, and easily Australia’s best ever total medal haul from a Universiade athletics. The previous best is five medals from Belgrade 2009 and Gwangju in 2015.


In other results:

Alysha Burnett (Australian Catholic University) just missed out on a medal finishing fourth in the women’s high jump with a height of 1.88m.


Earlier in the morning in a protest ridden half marathon  Ed Goddard  (University of Technology Sydney) and  Anna Kelly  (La Trobe University) produced excellent performances in the heat of Napoli. Goddard finished 4th  after initially crossing the lie in 6th place in 1:06.20 and Kelly eighth in 1:16.06.


The protests followed Chinese and Japanese athletes receiving food and drink outside of the refreshment stations in both the men’s and women’s races. In the end, the men’s Chinese team was disqualified while for the Chinese women and Japanese teams it was determined there was not enough evidence to disqualify them.


Georgia Hansen (University of Melbourne) finished 10th in the women’s 1500m final in a time of 4:21.89.


Daniel Canala (University of Adelaide) finished 14th in the men’s 5000m final in a time of 14:41.44.


Samantha Phillips  (University of Queensland) finished 19th in 1:21.35 and  Bryce Anderson (University of Canberra) finished 22nd in 1:10.04.  Lachlan Cook (University of Virginia) did not finish.



Rhythmic Gymnastics – The UniRoos rhythmic gymnastics team finished and excellent 6th with a score of 18.800 in the 5-ball group routine, the best ever score by an Australian team in an international competition. 


“It was amazing to be able to get a PB and to be able to get the score that we know we can get,” Alannah Matthews (The University of Queensland) said. 


In the team’s 3 hoops 2 clubs the team finished 5th with 18.800 points.