Perfect 10 at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival

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University of Sydney student athletes won an incredible 10 medals at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) held in Sydney last week.

Jillaroos women’s hockey player Nina Khoury (gold) joined Sydney Uni rowers Holly Lawrence (two gold, one bronze), Emma Thomas (two gold, one bronze), India Evans (one gold, one bronze) and Peter Koster on the podium at the biannual international under-21 multi-sport event organised by the Australian Olympic Committee.

On Sunday morning Khoury (B. Commerce/ B. Laws) and her Jillaroo team mates made history when they become the first Australian women’s hockey team to ever win the AYOF event, an occurrence Khoury attributed to the closeness of the team.

“Leading into the tournament we had a few practice matches against Great Britain, which we did really well in (won all three matches), and I think having that preparation allowed the team to become a really strong unit,” explained Khoury.

“From the beginning of the tournament we knew that we had the confidence in ourselves and we said ‘we are here to win it, we want to win this and we aren’t here for second place’. It was a great vibe, knowing that’s what everyone wanted soo badly from the tournament.”

It was that attitude that helped the Jillaross go through the tournament undefeated, as they swept aside Great Britain 3-0 in the tournament opener, came back from a two goal deficit to defeat the USA 4-2 and then drew 1-1 with eventual grand final opponents China.

In the final the Jillaroos came back from 1-0 down at half-time to win 2-1 and take the historic gold medal.

“We all wanted to win just as much as each other, and when you have that desire it just makes everything soo much more special,” said Khoury. “Everyone was just ecstatic.”

With six athletes representing NSW at the AYOF in Penrith, the Sydney University Women’s Rowing Club and the Sydney University Boat (men) Club were expected to provide plenty of medals and they didn’t let anyone down.

The teams competing in rowing were from all of the Australian states along with New Zealand and Great Britain.

Holly Lawrence (B. Science) and Emma Thomas won gold in the women’s quad, finishing ahead of Great Britain and South Australia. Lawrence and Thomas then won gold in the women’s eight with Sydney Uni team mate India Evans (B. Applied Science {Exercise & Sports Science}. The girls finished in front of Victoria and Great Britain.  

In the women’s four Evans collected bronze, as did Lawrence and Thomas in the women’s lightweight double scull, and Peter Koster (B. Liberal Arts & Science) in the men’s single scull.  

Rowers Benjamin Scott and Frank Goulas also competed at the AYOF.