They commute from Redfern, buy coffee from Ralph’s, attend lectures in Wallace and study in Fisher – their campus experience is similar to so many, but also different.

While most students spend their evenings at home or weekends relaxing, student-athletes often spend that same time in the gym getting stronger, on the field getting better, at the physio getting healthier, travelling to compete, and ultimately, representing their team, club, state or country in their sport.

Nicole Safi spotlights the experience of some of the University of Sydney’s Elite Athlete Program members for 2019.

Erin McKinnon (Australian Rules Football, B. Applied Science)

“Time management and being organised is really important when it comes to balancing study and sport. I have to make sure I prioritise all of my homework, assignments and study, and make sure that I utilise the limited time I have before trainings to the best of my ability.”

Austin Lucy (Australian Rules Football, Masters of Business Administration)

“There’s nothing worse and nothing better than having a crappy day and then coming down to a group of 30 or 40 guys at training, full of energy, who really love what they’re doing – you just get this huge release doing something you enjoy and that you’re good at.”

Rohan Browning (Athletics, B. Arts/B. Laws)

“You can’t get away with being at 99%. You have to be at 100% all the time, so it’s hard. You have to be able to switch on and off, and going to class everyday gives me a good opportunity to switch off and do something a bit more stimulating, in a different way.”

Carmen Marton (Taekwondo, Masters of Business Administration)

“Taekwondo is a global sport which means that all our competitions are overseas, so the biggest challenge for Australian athletes is getting overseas and having the funding to go and compete and punch on with the best.”

Isobel McCalman (Netball, B. Commerce (Liberal Studies))

“We start preseason in January and then we finish in September/October. It can be hard to stay motivated, especially towards the end of the year and in the middle of winter, but luckily we’ve got a great team.”

Mia Willows (Water Polo, B. Science)

“The Elite Athlete Program has been there when I’ve not made teams and when I have – they’re constantly there for both moral and mental support which is just priceless.”

Nicola McDermott (Athletics, B. Science)

“A career highlight for me has to be the 2018 Commonwealth Games. We had the home stadium at the Gold Coast – my family and friends were there – and I jumped a personal best and got the bronze medal for Australia.”