Thursday, July 21, 2016 - 11:00
L to R: Danielle Prince, Dane Bird-Smith, Maddison Keeney and Bianca Hammett
L to R: Danielle Prince, Dane Bird-Smith, Maddison Keeney and Bianca Hammett

Six University of Queensland students and five graduates are preparing to step onto the world stage at next month’s Rio Olympics (5-21 August).

The 11 athletes will represent Australia in athletics, diving, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronised swimming, sailing and rugby sevens.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said he was delighted to see past and present students competing at the Rio Olympics.  

“The athletes’ dedication to training, team spirit and hard work are an inspiration to others, and particularly to students who are combining study with elite-level sport,” Professor Høj said.

“UQ welcomes elite athletes, and we have scholarships and partnerships to support our students in achieving their very best both within their chosen sports and at their studies.

“I’ll be following our students and alumni with great interest as they compete in Rio de Janeiro.”

UQ students and graduates competing at the Rio Olympics:

Danielle Prince – Rhythmic gymnastics

Danielle, who is studying a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education, and is a Clem Jones Sporting Scholarship holder, will make her Olympic debut in Rio. Sporting highlights include winning a gold medal in the Team All-Around event at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Danielle Prince from The University of Queensland on Vimeo.

Dane Bird-Smith – Race Walking (20km)

The Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education student, and UQ Sports Achievement Scholarship recipient, will make his Olympic debut in Rio. Dane’s sporting highlights include winning the 20km Walk at the 2016 Oceania and Australian Race Walking Championships, and the 5km Walk at the 2016 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Melbourne World Challenge.

Maddison Keeney – Diving (3m springboard and 3m springboard synchronised)

Maddison is a Bachelor of Science student and a UQ Sports Achievement Scholarship recipient, and will make her Olympic debut in Rio. Her key sporting highlights include a silver medal in the Women’s 1m Springboard, and a bronze medal in the Women’s Synchronised 3m Springboard at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Bianca Hammett – Synchronised Swimming (may compete in multiple events)

Bianca is studying a Bachelor of Applied Science. She is Australia’s Synchronised Swimming captain and Rio will be her second Olympics – she was part of the team that placed eighth in the Women’s Team Event at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ashley Stoddart – Sailing (Laser Radial)

The Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) student will make her Olympic debut in Rio. She finished eleventh in the Laser Radial in the 2015 World Women’s Championship.

Nick Malouf – Men’s Rugby Sevens

Nick, who is studying a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws, is a member of the UQ Rugby Club and the Rio Olympics will be his Olympic debut. He made his international debut at the 2012 Dubai World Series.

Alana Boyd – Pole vault

Alana graduated with a Bachelor of Business Management in 2004 and Rio will be her third Olympics. She competed at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, and won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi (2010) and Glasgow (2014).

Alana Boyd from The University of Queensland on Vimeo.

Caitlin Sargent – 4x400m Women’s Relay

Caitlin graduated with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2013 and will make her Olympic debut in Rio. Caitlin was part of the team that placed fourth in the 4x400m Women’s Relay team at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.  

Fiona Albert - Rowing

The Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts graduate has been selected as part of the Women's Eight Rowing team for Australia. 

Josh Robinson – Javelin

Josh graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Engineering in 2009 and will make his Olympic debut in Rio. He finished fourth in Javelin at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Pita Nikolas Taufatofua – Taekwondo

The Bachelor of Engineering graduate (2007) will compete in the Taekwondo for Tonga and was the Tongan flag bearer at the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony. 

Other members of the UQ community heading to the 2016 Rio Olympics:

  • Cedric Dubler – Decathlon: Cedric is a UQ Athletics Club member and trains at the UQ Sport Athletics Centre. He will make his Olympic debut in Rio and is Australia's first Olympic decathlon entrant in 16 years.
  • Peter Wells – Bachelor of Physiotherapy (1991). Peter is Head of Physical Therapies for the Australian Olympic Team.
  • Sports psychology graduates: Joyce Koh – Sports psychologist for the Singaporean sailing team; Ruth Anderson – Head psychologist for Great Britain cycling.
  • Michael Hepburn – Cycling (4000m Men’s Team Pursuit): Michael is a former Bachelor of Human Movement Studies student and Rio will be his second Olympics after winning a silver medal in the Men’s Team Pursuit at the 2012 London Olympics. His other sporting highlights include Team Time Trial stage wins at the Giro d’Italia in 2014 and 2015.
  • Emilee Cherry – Women’s Rugby Sevens: Emilee is a former Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education student and was named 2013/2014 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year. The Rio Olympics will be her Olympic debut.
  • Emma Moffatt – Triathlon: A former UQ Bachelor of Applied Science student, Emma is Australia's first-ever triple Olympian in triathlon.
  • Con Foley – Men’s Rugby Sevens: Con is a UQ Rugby Club member and former Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Commerce student. Rio will be his first Olympics. Con was part of the Men’s Rugby Sevens team that won bronze at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
  • Eric Brown – Eric is a UQ Athletics Club member, and coaches Cedric Dubler and Caitlin Sargent.
  • Dave Smith – Dave is also a UQ Athletics Club member and is Dane Bird-Smith’s father and coach, and a two-time Olympian (1980 and 1984). 

Elite athlete program at UQ

Many of UQ’s Rio-bound Olympians have benefitted from UQ Sport Academy support. 

UQ Sporting Scholarships give students access to first-class sporting facilities, financial assistance, competition grants, specialist sport services, tutoring and athlete workshops.

Dane Bird-Smith said UQ’s Sporting Scholarships were far more than a financial leg-up.

“They provide invaluable support when athletics and study put up hurdles. Through this support, I have been able to keep my degree on-track without performances being impacted on the road to Rio,” Dane said.

The Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) program also supports high-performing student-athletes as they manage study and their sporting careers.

Media: Caroline Bird, UQ Communications, c.bird1@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 1130; Jamie Mitchell, UQ Sport, jamiem@uqsport.com.au or +61 7 3346 7518.