Pursuing excellence in tertiary studies and elite sport simultaneously can be especially challenging. The right assistance and encouragement is crucial. Since 1990, Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness (SUSF) has provided sporting scholarships and the Elite Athlete Program to assist student athletes to excel.

It is fitting that we catch up with two of our Elite Athlete Program Alumni in this issue of ROAR where we also salute Bruce Ross (pg 36), who first proposed the system of sports scholarships that have assisted so many. Indeed, Ross took a particular interest in encouraging past sporting scholars to keep alive their involvement with the University and its sporting clubs.

Lavina Chrystal David Hynes
  • Lavinia Chrystal represented Australia in Alpine Skiing (Slalom and Giant Slalom) at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
  • You cannot get much more of a local to the University than Chrystal who was born in Camperdown.
  • Chrystal attained a Bachelor of Economics and Social Sciences, 2008-2012 and a Masters in International Management (CEMS), 2013-2015, from the University of Sydney.
  • David Hynes was the recipient of the first Sydney University Sports Scholarship way back in 1990.
  • Hynes played with the Sydney University Baseball Club and represented Australia in Men’s Baseball at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
  • Hynes graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics (Social Sciences), Bachelor of Laws, 1990-1994.

Where are you now professionally since your time as a student athlete at the University of Sydney? 

David: In addition to being a property developer, I advise a number of individuals and companies regarding the property aspects of their business and am a director of Sydney Markets Limited and President of Baseball Australia.

Lavinia: Now that I’ve retired from sport, I am living and working in Oslo, Norway. For the past year I’ve worked for a global software company and in August I will start a new role as a Management Trainee in Norway’s largest telecommunications company.

What did being a part of the Elite Athlete Program and a sports scholarship mean to you? 

David: At the time, the sports scholarship had little to do with my studies. What it did do was to introduce me to the broader Sydney University sporting community. The relationships that I made through my time as a sports scholarship holder remain strong to this day.

I remain amazed at the ongoing development and success of the program at Sydney University which has grown on the back of this initial sports scholarship. It is the best program by miles across the country and has provided so many young people with wonderful opportunities.

Lavinia: The Elite Athlete Program meant that I was able to pursue my sporting goals and academic ambitions at the same time. Education has always been so important to me and when many of my fellow competitors were dropping out of school or choosing not to go to university, I thought I could fall behind in my sport. But it actually had the opposite effect – studying gave me another focus and I believe it helped me become a better athlete. I was able to balance both thanks to the support and flexibility of the program and all the staff in helping me meet my university deadlines and travel commitments for training and competition. I was able to reach my sporting dreams and secure my future professional career.

Did you have a role model at Sydney University who helped you pursue your dreams during or after your studies?

David: I have benefited immensely throughout my life from people who have selflessly taken an interest in my future and have either provided or advised on opportunities that have arisen along the way. It is a great gift to be able to help out a young person with dreams and ambition and Sydney Uni provides a wonderful environment for this to occur.

Lavinia: Bruce and Annie Corlett have been great mentors to me, particularly since my retirement and completion of my studies. This transition can be a particularly difficult for athletes, but they’ve been very supportive and always lend their ear and advice whenever I need it. They’re very generous with their time, not only to me but to the University and have been particularly supportive of women’s sport at the University.

Both of you represented your country in the Olympics. What was your most memorable moment or experience competing for Australia in front of the entire world?

David: 1996 Atlanta Games – Walking into the opening ceremony of the Olympics has to be up there for a sporting highlight. It seems a lifetime ago (nearly 20 years) but it was an amazing privilege and something you never forget. That said, it was more satisfying to actually perform well on the Olympic stage.

Lavinia: 2014 Sochi Games – Outside of the competition itself, the opening ceremony was my favourite. Australia was the first country behind Greece to enter the stadium and it is a moment I’ll never forget. The pure noise of the crowd gave me goosebumps. It was such a proud moment and one I had dreamed of my whole life. Meeting so many other athletes from other sports and countries was also a great highlight! 

What is the best advice you were ever given?

David: I worked for Harry Triguboff for 5 years and he used to always say, “find out what you are good at and do it and you will be a success.” While that advice sounds simple, it is my view that most people have never really worked out what they are good at.

Lavinia: Expect the unexpected. As Mike Tyson said – “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” We all set goals and plans but they never turn out the way we expect. Be flexible, adaptable and tough. Until you no longer feel the burn, always get back up again.