13.07.2008 – Graham Croker

The selection on Friday of Sarah Stewart in the women’s wheelchair basketball team and Thomas Whalan, Trent Franklin, Robert Maitland and Sam McGregor in the men’s water polo team will see 19 Sydney University athletes competing with Australian teams at the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Stewart, a former Vice-Chancellor’s sport scholarship holder and PhD in philosophy, will be attending her second Paralympics with the Australian Gliders. And she’s hoping to go one better than the silver medal she received at the Athens Games where the Australians were edged out by the United States in the gold medal match.

“There’s nothing like the night before a gold medal match,” she recently told The Sun-Herald.
Whalan, who will captain the 13-man Australian water polo team, will be attending his third Olympic Games, while Franklin and McGregor will be attending their second Olympics.

Other Sydney University athletes confirmed in Australian teams for Beijing are rowers Liz Kell, Brooke Pratley, Marty Rabjohns, Jeremy Stevenson, Matt Ryan, Frances Hegarty and Terrence Alfred (reserve); Kyla Bremner (wrestling); Robin Bell (canoe); Lachlan Milne (kayak); Taniele Gofers and Nikita Cuffe (water polo); Alexandra Croak (diving), Lachlan Renshaw (athletics) and Angie Ballard (wheelchair athletics).

Ballard, Gofers, Kell, Croak, Renshaw, McGregor and Stewart are Sydney University Sport and Fitness scholarship holders.

Sydney University will also be represented at the Games through Dr. Donna O’Connor (women’s basketball trainer); Dr. Grace Bryant (women’s water polo team physician) Ryan Moar (women’s water polo assistant coach); Dr. Leo Jeffcott (equestrian veterinarian) and alumnus John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee.

Former Sydney University Flames member Belinda Snell, now playing in the US, has also been selected in the women’s basketball, while Swimming Club member Carl Probert has been selected to represent Fiji in the pool.