With the ANU’s largest contingent of students, 191 participants, attending the recent Australian University Games it is worth taking several moments to reflect on the changing nature of University sport in Australia. The week long sporting event provides an interesting dichotomy of students competing at Olympic sport standard venues and competing against Olympic Games standard athletes, against the backdrop of an extensive social program.
Based on the results of the week, it is clear that a number of universities are taking a more results oriented approach towards their involvement in Uni Games. This approach is highlighted by:
· the strong ambition emerging among a number of universities to become ‘champions’ of Uni Games, epitomised by the sporting rivalry between Sydney University & Melbourne University,
· the number of sports scholarship programs available in other universities,
· the number of athletes competing at Uni Games who are aspiring to elite level sport through their universities.
What is also quickly emerging is the interest US universities are taking in the calibre of Australian athletes in Australian universities and, conversely, a small number of Australian universities taking an interest in US college graduate athletes seeking to continue their academic and sporting pursuits. All of these developments are set against the strategic plan of the peak body of Australian university sport, which has as one of its strategic aims, to become a pathway for student athletes into elite level sport in Australia.
So where to from here? Firstly: putting in place strategies to have the best possible athletes representing ANU at the Australian Uni Games; also, developing programs that better support student athletes who are aspiring to get the best out of their athletic ability while at University; as well having a campus-wide commitment that values representing the ANU in sport.