Team UniSA had a successful week at the 2016 Australian University Games, returning from Perth with a number of medals and a strong team camaraderie.
Two gold medals were won, in the men’s tennis competition and in the cycling, with Madeleine Steele winning the individual time trial.
There were also a number of silver and bronze medals won, in judo and taekwondo while Steele also picked up another medal in the road race.
Across the other five sports, there were some strong top five finishes for UniSA.
The tennis team had an incredible week, remaining undefeated for the entire competition.
This culminated in a 3-1 win over Deakin University in the final.
Bachelor of Arts student Nikola Stakic was one of the members of the tennis team, which was placed in division two despite having a number of state players in it.
He said that while the team was initially disappointed about being in division two, they were pleasantly surprised by the standard.
“There were some really good players out there so we are really happy with the win and it was very fulfilling knowing we had to play proper matches rather than walking over,” Stakic said.
Tyson Devine, who is studying construction management and economics, agreed with Stakic and said it wasn’t just the win which made the week fulfilling.
“It was a good team effort, the boys got around each other, and during the week we really bonded as a team,” Devine said.
“We’ll definitely all be back together next year to compete in division one.”
It was a week of mixed emotions for our cyclists with some real highs and super lows.
Masters of Architecture student Steele started the week well with a silver medal in the road race, and followed it up with a gold in the individual time trial.
She was happy about both those results, “I was really excited to get silver in a tough race on a tough course and absolutely stoked to come away with my first ever win in an individual time trial,” Steele said.
UniSA’s two male cyclists Justin Gassner and Simon Eglinton also had strong weeks, coming seventh in the pairs time trial, and with Gassner finishing sixth in the road race.
However, the criterium was the lowlight, with Steele’s tyre blowing when she was in the leading pack and about to make her move on the final lap, deflating her chances of winning, while the men’s was cancelled due to bad weather and a crash.
The only consolation was that Steele was awarded the green and gold medal for being the best and fairest, which she said was “really special.”
The judo and taekwondo teams gave UniSA a great start on the first day of competition, winning six minor medals between them.
The judo team won five of those, with both the men's and women's teams earning silver in the team competition.
Individually, Mark Rullo also got silver in the 90kg-110kg men's category.
There were also two individual bronze, one to Hyejoo Kwon in the female 57kg and Kerr Bu in the female 63kg.
UniSA competitor Nelson Yang also won a silver medal, placing second in the black belt under 87kg competition.
Saad Alsharrah, who is doing his PhD in environmental science at UniSA, was part of the judo team and he said the Uni Games were a great experience.
“It was an awesome day, nice weather, nice venue, and it was good fun to apply all the techniques we have learnt at uni in a competition.”
The men’s basketball team finished fifth overall, a terrific effort having only qualified for the AUG’s earlier this year.
After losing their first game to the eventual winners UWA by only one point, the boys snapped into gear, winning their next five and guaranteeing themselves requalification for the AUG’s next year on the Gold Coast.
In their last game, they beat reigning premiers Macquarie 66-38 to seal fifth place.
UniSA’s Lucas Valk was also awarded a green and gold medal for his efforts on the court.
Mason Dolling, the coach of the team, was proud of their efforts, “we had eight games in three days which is really tough, so for the boys to push through and play seriously, that was really good,” Dolling said.
Dolling was also impressed by the camaraderie of the whole UniSA team, “it was really good to come over with everyone on the plane and get the whole uni feeling, it was good to feel a part of something bigger than the basketball team.”
“It was really positive being around a larger organisation and supporting each other throughout the week.”
It was a solid week for the women’s basketball team also, finishing in sixth position.
While they didn’t finish as high as they expected, they did earn themselves requalification into next years AUG’s.
In the rowing, UniSA made the A finals in all three of their racing categories, women’s double scull, women’s pair and women’s four with coxswain.
The standout performance for the rowers was the fours team coming fourth in their final, beating a number of universities they finished behind in earlier heats, highlighting their improvement.
At the athletics, Annie Kitto made the finals of both of her events this week, the 800 and 1500 metre races.
She got a 13 second personal best in the 1500 and an equal PB in the 800, so it was a terrific week for her.
Tom Adler also competed in the athletics and against some really tough competition worked really hard and ran good times.
Darcy Nitschke was our only competitor in the swimming, and he did a great job competing in a number of different events.
He made the finals in a number of his races, highlighting his successful week.
On the beach, the volleyballers had to contend with some shocking conditions, injuries and tough competition throughout the week, but they left their best volleyball to last.
They won both their games on the final day to secure fifth position, a great achievement considering what they endured.
At the conclusion of the event, two spirit awards were handed out to athletes that encapsulate the spirit in which UniSA wants to be represented.
Kitto won the female one for her dedication to her sport throughout the week, while beach volleyballer Braden Cook won the other for sacrificing one of his nights out to help one of his teammates.
Overall, team captain Steele said was really proud of how UniSA performed over the week, “there were a lot of individual and team performances that showed that we have some talented and dedicated athletes that want to represent UniSA to the best of their ability.”
“It was also great to see that lots of Team UniSA made new friends, and had a lot of fun, not only on court but during the social activities, and the team really bonded over the week.”
It was a great week for Team UniSA in Perth, with many strong performances, a lot of hard work, plenty of fun and great camaraderie and support.
Everyone at UniSA will be looking forward to the intervarsity competitions in 2017.
Written by Kirralee Thomas