A record 19 medals, with four golds, including a thrilling dead-heat for the defending champion Justin James in the 200m individual medley, has completed a successful Summer Universiade for the Australian Uniroos in Gwangju, Korea.
Team chef de mission Liz Brett said the record medal haul was a great reward for an inspiring group of young student athletes, many of whom will become the stars of Australian sport in the years to come.
“It’s the Uniroos best result ever and it’s a testament to the way they have approached the Games. The entire team has conducted themselves with great spirit and sportsmanship and displayed the true Uniroos values,” Brett said.
“And the term ‘bronzed Aussies’ has never been truer – with an incredible twelve bronze medals many of them won with new personal bests.”
James created history by becoming the first Australian swimmer to defend a University Games title. He was joined on the top step of the podium by Australia’s most successful athlete at the Games, West Australian swimmer Holly Barratt who collected gold in the 50m backstroke, to go with bronze medals in the 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle events.
Walker Dane Bird-Smith (University of Queensland) splashed through the rain to win gold in the 20km event, dashing clear in the final 500m to win by just three seconds.
And in the final event for the Uniroos at the Games, the women’s water polo team scored a nail-biting penalty shootout win over Canada to score their first ever gold at a Universiade.
The Uniroos tally of 19 medals - four gold, three silver and twelve bronze is the best result recorded a the Summer Universiade, ahead of the sixteen in total won in both Kazan, Russia in 2013 and Shenzhen, China in 2011.
Rising discus star Matthew Denny, 19, won a surprise silver medal. The Griffith University business student was the youngest athlete in the final and launched a lifetime best of 62.58m to clinch his first medal in senior international competition. In a slippery circle and constant rain, he also set a new Australian under 20 record to win the first ever medal for Australia in the event at a Summer Universiade.
After finishing fifth in the 800m freestyle, Queensland’s Jack McLoughlin (QUT) claimed silver in the 400m freestyle and he was part of the 4x200m relay team that won silver along with Jacob Hansford (Australian College of Physical Education), men’s swim team captain Travis Mahoney (Deakin University), and Justin James (Australian National University). Nick Brown (University of Western Australia) and Jared Gillard (Queensland University of Technology) swam in the heats to help get the team into the final.
The Uniroos favourite colour was bronze, with twelve bronze medals, a record at any Games, eclipsing the eight won in Shenzhen in 2011.
Seven of them came in at the Nambu Aquatic Centre with Barratt collecting two, as did Griffith University’s, Kiah Melverton adding the 800m freestyle bronze to the 1500m medal of the same colour earlier in the meet. Queensland medley specialist Ellen Fullerton (QUT) won bronze in the 200m individual medley final, Jacob Hansford (Australian College of Physical Education) came from seventh with a lap to go to snatch the bronze in the 200m freestyle to go with the relay silver and Ami Matsuo (Ultimo TAFE) swam from lane eight in the 100m freestyle final as the slowest qualifier and somehow managed to come from eighth at the 50m mark to get on the podium in third place.
In the pool the Uniroos finished with 11 medals – two gold, two silver and seven bronze, an impressive 29 personal bests and further 12 season best performances. The effort was one more than in Kazan, Russia in 2013.
Trap shooter and defending World University Games champion Catherine Skinner (RMIT) led the Uniroos into the opening ceremony and then went on to win two bronze, first in the individual trap event where she came close to defending her title, and then as the leader of the women’s team that also included Gemma Dunn and Indi Gladman (Federation University)
A second medal unexpected athletics medal came from Naa Anang in the women’s long jump. The exercise science student at Queensland University of Technology produced a whopping 19cm personal best to finish third.
Ebullient hurdler Michelle Jenneke captured bronze in the 100m hurdler, who captured plenty of attention with Korean media, clinched her first senior international medal in 12.94
Australia’s 20km walkers won bronze in the women’s team event in oppressive conditions. The Uniroos trio of Rachel Tallent (University of Canberra), Stephanie Stigwood (University of Tasmania) and Nicole Fagan (Sydney University), outlasted their competitors for the team medal to finish behind walking powerhouses Russia and China.
In other highlights for the Uniroos from the 181 athletes competing in 16 of the 21 sports.
The Emerging Opals placed fifth place in the women’s basketball tournament, ending the tournament with an 8-1 record after going through the pool rounds undefeated with wins against Uganda, Brazil and Chinese Taipei before a disappointing loss to Japan in the quarter-finals. They then beat Hungary before the solid win over the Czech Republic for fifth.
Mangok Mathiang (University of Louisville) and Hugh Greenwood (University of New Mexico) stamped themselves as names to watch as the Emerging Boomers finished tenth .
In diving, Olympic and Commonwealth Games representative Anabelle Smith (Australian Catholic University) finished ninth in the 3m springboard final. After finishing eighth in the 3m springboard final, Matthew Barnard (University of Minnesota) returned for the 10m platform to finish ninth. Barnard joined with Kahlia Warner (University of Florida) for seventh in the mixed team event, and Warner and Smith finished fifth in the 3m synchronized springboard final, Australia’s best result of the Games.
In gymnastics, Australian Catholic University student Emma Nedov, finished eighth in the women’s all around final and returned to finish fifth in the beam final. Georgia-Rose Brown (RMIT) placed sixth in the uneven bars.
At Chungju Tangeum Lake Regatta Centre, the women’s coxless fours finished sixth in the final, University of Melbourne duo Hedda Cooper and Claudia Zucchelli combined with Caitlin Cronin (University of Queensland) and Sarah Zillmann (QUT) to record the best result for a Uniroos crew at the regatta.
Aside from the two bronze medals, at the shooting range Frederyk Woodhouse (University of Adelaide) finished fifth in the 50m prone rifle and Emily Esposito (Australian Catholic University) finished eighth place in the 10m air pistol competition.
The men’s water polo team finished seventh.
The next edition of the Games will be held in Taipei, Chinese Taipei from 19th-30th August 2017.
Uniroos Medals – Gwangju 2015
Athletics – Dane Bird-Smith (University of Queensland) – 20km walk
Swimming - Justin James (Australian National University) - 200m Individual Medley
Swimming - Holly Barratt (University of Western Australia) – 50m backstroke
Water Polo – Women’s team:
Tiana Anderson (Griffith University, Gold Coast), Elle Armit (Queensland University of Technology), Tyler Baillie (Queensland University of Technology), Julia Barton (University of Newcastle), Isobel Bishop (University of Technology Sydney), Pascalle Casey (Macquarie University), Lilian Hedges (University of Western Australia), Lena Mihailovic (Arizona State University), Montana Perkins (University of Newcastle), Ellodie Ruffin (Australian Catholic University), Madeleine Steere (University of Melbourne), Fiona Walsh (University of NSW), Jessica Zimmerman (Curtin University of Technology),
Athletics – Matthew Denny (Griffith University) - discus
Swimming - Jack McLoughlin (Queensland University of Technology) – 400m freestyle
Swimming - Jacob Hansford (Australian College of Physical Education), Travis Mahoney (Deakin University), Jack McLoughlin, Justin James (Australian National University) – Men’s 4x200m freestyle (Nick Brown (University of Western Australia) and Jared Gillard (Queensland University of Technology) swam in the heats)
Athletics – Naa Anang (Queensland University of Technology) – long jump
Athletics – Michelle Jenneke (Sydney University) – 100m hurdles
Athletics – Rachel Tallent (University of Canberra), Stephanie Stigwood (University of Tasmania), Nicole Fagan (Sydney University) - 20km walk team
Shooting – Catherine Skinner - (RMIT) - individual trap
Shooting – Cathering Skinner (RMIT), Gemma Dunn (Australian College of Physical Education), Indi Gladman (Federation Univesity) team trap
Swimming - Jacob Hansford 200m freestyle
Swimming - Ami Matsuo (Ultimo TAFE) – 100m freestyle
Swimming - Kiah Melverton (Griffith University) – 1500m freestyle
Swimming - Ellen Fullerton (Queensland University of Technology) – 200m Individual Medley
Swimming - Holly Barratt (University of Western Australia) – 50m Butterfly
Swimming - Holly Barratt (University of Western Australian - 50m freestyle
Swimming - Kiah Melverton (Griffith University) - 800m freestyle