150 of our finest sports

MORE than 150 of Australia’s finest athletes and performers are enrolled at Australian Catholic University as part of the Elite Athlete and Performer Program.

The program helps balance the demands of being an athlete or performer with academic pursuits to excel both on and off the field.

Last year, ACU supported 360 student athletes and performers across more than 70 disciplines.

Each will have access to academic support, early timetabling and financial support, among other sporting or performing arts related opportunities.

Director Student Engagement and Services Paul McJannett said the university was immensely proud of its high-performing students.

ACU was committed to supporting those juggling academic and performing commitments, including financial assistance in many cases.

“Last year we awarded more than 100 students financial scholarships and travel subsidies, which provided greater depth and value to the academic and pastoral support we offer,” he said.

“This is particularly valuable for those students whose national sporting organisations stop funding subsidies when the student turns 18. ACU’s help can make the difference between continuing studies or not.”

The most high-profile example is the four ACU students who attended the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio in 2016: Ellie Cole (swimming), Mack Horton (swimming), Emma Tonegato (Rugby 7s) and Anabelle Smith (diving).

Each won at least one medal, with Cole bringing home six.

Among ACU’s elite athletes are Australian Olympic high jumper Brandon Starc, AFL player Tom Mitchell, WNBL player Lara McSpadden, Melbourne Vixen captain Kate Moloney, NRL footballer Adam Blair, AFL St Kilda captain Jarryn Geary, and AFLW players Nat Exon, Tahni Nestor and Jasmine Grierson.

Sports represented include fencing, cross-country skiing, dragon-boat racing and rugby 7s.