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UniSport Australia marks records and contributions to sport in 2023 at annual Sport Awards

MEDIA RELEASE

8 MAY 2024

Pictured: Olympian Jakara Anthony

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA: UniSport Australia (UniSport) has celebrated a record breaking year of contributions and performances in at its annual Sport Awards.

 

Headlined by Athlete of the Year winners Cara Feain-Ryan (University of Queensland, Athletics) and Reece Holder (Queensland University of Technology, Athletics), the evening saw 10 awards presented for outstanding achievements across a wide range of summer and winter sports.

 

While freestyle skier and Olympic gold medallist Jakara Anthony came away with yet another accolade to add to her already impressive list of honours, taking home Most outstanding performance by a student-athlete.

 

Hosting guests from the university sector including student athletes, UniSport Life Members and industry partners, the 2024 UniSport Gala dinner was a celebration of the success of the industry from the previous year.

 

Chief Executive Officer of UniSport Australia Mark Sinderberry said he was delighted to see the community come together to celebrate their achievements.

 

“Our athletes and Universities once again showed that Australia is home to some of the most exciting talent in the world with stunning performance in both National and International competitions in 2023.” Mr Sinderberry said.

 

“With student engagement and enjoyment while participating in National University sport events increasing, and more records being broken year on year, it’s important for us to take a moment to celebrate the achievements of every individual, team, University and community.

 

“I congratulate not just our Sport Award Winners, but all university members for their efforts and contributions to sport over the past 12 months.” Said Sinderberry.

 

The ten categories were assessed and awarded to student-athletes and/or teams from Australian Universities based performances during the 2023 calendar year.

 

FULL WINNER LIST:

 

Most Outstanding Performance by a Student-Athlete with a Disability

Winner: Curtis McGrath

Degree: Bachelor of Aviation Management, Griffith University

Sport: Canoe Sprint

 

In 2023, Curtis won his 11th World Championship gold medal for the KL2 200m event at the ICF Canoe Sprint Championship in Germany. He was also named as the Co-Captain for the Australian Paralympic team travelling to Paris for the Paralympic Games in 2024.  

 

Most Outstanding Performance by an Indigenous Student-Athlete

Winner: Emily Watts

Degree: Bachelor of Education (Health and Physical Education), University of Sydney

Sport: Cycling

 

Emily is a member of the Elite Athlete Program at the University of Sydney and was previously involved in the Sydney Uni Staminade team prior to joining the Australian UCI Continental road cycling. Emily juggles her academics and sporting performance, also receiving The Steglick Indigenous Women’s Scholarship, University of Sydney Indigenous Progress Award, The Walter Reid Memorial Prize, and a Gold Club Scholarship.

 

Most Outstanding Performance by a Student-Athlete

Winner: Jakara Anthony

Degree: Bachelor of Business, Deakin University

Sport: Freestyle Skiing

 

Jakara began 2023 as the number one ranked mogul skier in the world, finishing the 2022/23 season with a silver and gold medal. In the first seven events for the FIS Freestyle World Cup 2023/24 season saw Jakara claim six gold and one bronze medals across her seven events. In 2023 Jakara has had amazing results, continually breaking records and is now the most decorated Australian mogul skier of all time alongside achieving fantastic results in her university studies. 

 

Student-Athlete of the Year (Female)

Winner: Cara Feain-Ryan

Degree: Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours), The University of Queensland

Sport: Athletics

 

In 2023, Cara represented the University of Queensland at the Nationals Athletics Championship achieving 1st place in the 1500m event. She then went on to be a part of the UniRoos athletics team at the FISU World University Summer Games in Chengdu, China where she achieved 1st place in the 3000m Steeplechase event. With this achievement, Cara qualified for the World Athletics Championships where she ran a personal best by nine seconds and finished 20th overall, and improvement on her previous ranking of 34th.

 

Student-Athlete of the Year (Male)

Winner: Reece Holder

Degree: Bachelor of Urban Development, Queensland University of Technology

Sport: Athletics

 

Reece was a part of the UniRoos Athletics team representing Australia at the FISU World University Summer Games in Chengdu, China where he received the silver medal and broke the FISU record in the 400m event. Reece is also an ambassador for the QUT Elite Athlete Program, with his commitment to excellence fostering a culture of achievement athletically and within the community. Due to his achievements in 2023, Reece is now in contention for selection for the Paris Olympic team which, if successful, will be the highlight of his career.

 

Most outstanding University sport project or program

Winner: Women in Sport Leadership Retreat, Monash University

 

Carolyn Gordon, Chloe Gibson, and Isabel Melles-Taberner who make up the Monash University Performance, Representation and Engagement Programs (or PREP) team are champions for women’s inclusion and empowerment in sport at the university level. They pioneered a first of it’s kind event for sporting leaders who are women through the Women in Sport Leadership Retreat. The retreat brought together passionate community leaders in an environment that not only brought in high-level presenters to educate young leaders, but also fostered new working relationships between participants through shared storytelling and insightful brainstorming sessions.

 

There were a record number of 18 individuals who provided their names and support to this award nomination, showcasing the impact it had on the attendees.

 

Most outstanding University sport project or program

Winner: RMIT Sports Media Program, RMIT University

 

The RMIT Sports Media Program serves as a hub where annually 33 students, 2 work integrated learning students, and community volunteers from RMITV Community Television and SYN Media gain experience in journalism, broadcasting, commentary, photography, videography, and social media marketing. Our program participants follow the journeys of our sports academy, national representative teams, 150 plus elite athletes, and 41 recreational sports clubs, delivering over 60 livestreamed hours a year, showcasing the spectacular sporting moments and authentic stories from the Redback community.

 

The content that the RMIT Sports Media Program generates, amplifies the voices of students who love sport and getting active inspiring local and international students to get involved and make amazing memories representing RMIT.

 

Most outstanding contribution by a student volunteer

Winner: Adila Abdul Halim

Degree: PHD in Astrophysics, The University of Adelaide

Sport: Swimming

 

Adila has been president of the AU Swimming Club for three year, leading the club from a position of almost collapse and financial stress to a thriving, inclusive and viable club. Adila has worked to secure a number of grants to contribute to financial sustainability, increase awareness, memberships and offerings including: a Water Safety event for international students hosted by Royal Life Saving South Australia, dedicated swim times to cater for diversity of skill supported by Adelaide City Council, Come and Try events at the City of Adelaide Pool, and working with the university for the annual “Duel in the Pool event”.

 

Adila is a volunteer that is always present, whether in the club or at on campus student engagement events from orientation weeks, to Sportopia, and Clubs in the Hub.

 

Club leadership award

Winner: La Trobe University Football Club (AFL), La Trobe University

Sport: AFL

 

The La Trobe University Football Club go above and beyond to ensuring that t/hey make an impact on student life at university. Through their “Introduction to Aussie Rules” Clinics and NAIDOC week events they showed a commitment to building accessibility for students and ensuring inclusion. They are also heavily involved in on-camps events and programs from orientation events, walk and run events, and family days during the school holidays.

 

The La Trobe University Football Club also won the 2023 Blues Sports Awards, beating out 25 other affiliated clubs. A clear recognition of their hard work and success in 2023. 

 

Official of the Year

Winner: Jessica Musson

Degree:  Bachelor of Business, University of South Australia

Sport: Netball

 

Jessica was the Netball Team Manager for the UniSA team at the UniSport Nationals. She captained her team to a Divisional 2 Bronze medal, reflecting her leadership skills and standing amongst the student-athlete cohort. In 2023 Jessica also won the Sport Club Administrator of the Year award, was a finalist for the Volunteer of the Year award and was awarded a Club Colours for contributions to the Netball Club.

 

Team of the Year

Winner: USYD 3X3 Basketball Men, University of Sydney

Degree:  Bachelor of Business, University of South Australia

Sport: 3X3 Basketball

 

In 2023, the University of Sydney men’s team competed at the UniSport 3x3 Nationals Championship and after a tough first match successfully made it to the finals, securing a place in the FISU Oceania Qualifying Tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. Alongside the women’s team, they competed and became champions leading them to compete in the FISU World University Cup in Doha, Qatar. In this tournament, they competed against teams from Qatar, China and Ukraine to make it to the finals where they competed against Lithuania, falling short of the gold and being awarded the Silver medal.

 


For more information, please contact: 

Shannon Knaus

Marketing and Communications Manager 

UniSport Australia 

Phone: +61 438 487 216 (AUS)

 

About UniSport Australia 

UniSport Australia (UniSport) is the peak body for university sport in Australia. 43 universities are members of UniSport, representing a population of over one million students. UniSport’s ambition is to become an integral partner of Australian universities to deliver an outstanding student experience at our national intervarsity sports competitions. UniSport is also committed to advocate on the value of sport on student experience. 

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