Student Sport Snapshot: Celebrating 2019

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Whether it be on the iconic Eastern Avenue, near the crystal-clear waters on the Gold Coast or on the various venues around campus, student participation in sport has been flourishing across a number of electrifying competitions.

Flicking the calendar back to July, Sydney University’s frantic and picturesque pedestrian thoroughfare caught a case of basketball fever when the NBL’s 3×3 Big Hustle Uni event landed on the campus’ sacred turf.

The pearly grey tiles on Eastern Avenue were overpowered by two half-courts that were the podium for 112 students from 18 universities to showcase their raw athleticism across two days of jam-packed action.

A one-of-a-kind event, the bleachers filled to the brim to witness a three-point bonanza, a hard-fought grind in the paint and handling skills that would give NBA superstar Kyrie Irving a run for his money.

Hurricane-like conditions flipped marquees on their head, sent tables flying and challenged the long-range shooters, but it didn’t detract from the jaw-dropping spectacle that was blessed with the university’s most prized piece of real estate.

Sydney University were well represented in both the men’s and women’s competitions, headlined by the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames star power combination of Maddie O’Hehir and Lara McSpadden.

With a dream ticket to the FISU 3×3 University Cup in China and a spot on the NBL 3×3 Hustle Pro tour in their sights, Sydney University’s women’s team cruised through the pool stages until their hopes came crashing down in the semi-finals with a defeat to eventual champions UTS.

They didn’t walk away empty-handed though, taking a shot
at redemption with both hands as Sydney Uni Sparks product Serika Shillingsworth inspired an 8-7 win over Deakin University with a late burst of energy in the bronze medal match.

In the men’s, two early losses in the pool stage sent a shock through the system and it made it difficult to bounce back, despite winning their next four games.

Sydney University had the honour of hosting an event with a phenomenal quality of basketball, giving students the platform to showcase their talents on a walkway that has rarely been touched by the beauty of sport.

Around the grounds of the university, the passion and competitiveness that drove the 3×3 Hustle event has been instilled into the Intercollegiate and Interfaculty competitions for years.

These are no muck-around events – the students mean business.

During a St John’s College versus St Andrew’s College women’s football match, the latter had a stranglehold on the game with a 6-0 lead, but it did nothing to cool the fire in St John’s belly as they fought to the death and were determined to put a score on the board, later rewarded with two late goals that got the crowd to its feet.

This first experience with Intercollegiate Sport was a real eye-opener. Forget the score, the commitment to stay in the fight signified the culture shift within the athletes who have turned around the College ethos through competitive spirit, transforming the tournament into one of the most hotly- contested battles that the University has to offer.

In both the Rawson Cup (men’s) and Rosebowl Cup (women’s), St Andrew’s College sit at the top of the tree, impressively winning all but the rowing event in the women’s at the time ROAR 44 was publish, with one sport left on the calendar.

Over 3,000 participants competed across 10 sports, including cricket, swimming, hockey, rowing, netball, soccer, rugby, basketball, tennis and athletics, in more than 80 fixtures and a vast number of races.

There were flocks of spectators rolling through the gates, particularly on the final nights of the rugby and football events that attracted a strong alumni crowd of former residents – a sign that the competition leaves a lasting mark on the students.

Those kind of numbers were replicated in the Interfaculty competition which has been a popular event for all staff and students since 1939. The competition promotes inclusiveness and participation, but honour and pride are on the line for every faculty in this social environment.

Competing teams included the faculties of Agriculture, Architecture, Design and Planning, Arts, Dentistry, Business, Education & Social Work, Engineering & IT, Health Science, Law, Medicine, Music, Nursing & Midwifery, Pharmacy, Science and Veterinary Science.

Across the semester, a record 1,755 participants competed in sports such AFL 9’s, ultimate frisbee, futsal, dodgeball and touch football to name a few. With 14 sports to choose from, it seemed to be basketball that was the more popular option with 163 participants walking onto the court.

But if there was any event that encapsulated the high level of student participation at Sydney University, the 2019 Nationals Div 1 competition trumped all.

Represented by one the largest groups in the competition, Sydney Uni sent 428 athletes, totalling 39 teams (male, female and mixed).

Any venue you visited around the Gold Coast, whether it be the modern Carrara Indoor Stadium or the lush green fields at Coomera Sports Park, the blue and navy lion was by far the most popular logo.

Most popular, but more importantly, most successful.

In a tremendous effort, the University of Sydney ended their 2019 Nationals Div 1 campaign on top of the table after claiming a whopping seven pennants across the event.

Entering the week on four pennants – made up by athletics men’s and women’s, League of Legends and cross-country skiing – Sydney Uni added another seven to the collection through women’s hockey, ultimate frisbee, women’s football, men’s beach volleyball, women’s rowing and kendo men’s and women’s.

Remarkably, women’s football claimed their ninth straight title, winning 2-0 over rivals UTS in the final, while ultimate frisbee and hockey rebounded from second places in 2018 to reclaim top honours.

Overall, Sydney Uni claimed seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal.

Special mentions must also go out to our silver medallists in women’s netball, men’s water polo and women’s badminton who all fought with resilience throughout the week, while baseball snared bronze.

A total of 11 pennants puts Sydney Uni narrowly on top, sitting above University of Queensland who did phenomenally well to win 10 pennants in one week.

There are still three pennants across two events up for grabs at the time ROAR 44 was publish in marathon and T20 cricket.

The overall Nationals Div 1 title would put the cherry on top on what has been an enthralling year for student participation across a range of events, highlighted by some incredible numbers and achievements that emphasise Sydney Uni’s unrivalled passion for sport