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Student sports stars score UC scholarships

Kristyn Comino

21 May 2015: A Paralympic medal-winning rower, one of Australia's best young biathlon competitors and a runner who has just made a qualifying time for the Olympics are among the University of Canberra student sports stars who received a one-year $10,000 scholarship today.

Six students were awarded the inaugural Eldon and Anne Foote Trust Elite Athlete Scholarship, which aims to help support the students to balance both their athletic career and tertiary education.

The prestigious scholarships are funded by the Eldon and Anne Foote Trust, a charitable trust of the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation, in honour of the late philanthropist and businessman Eldon Foote who was passionate about sport. Due to the high calibre of athlete entries for the scholarship, the University contributed $10,000 to support a total of six student scholarship recipients on top of the five funded by the trust.

The University of Canberra is an Elite Athlete Friendly University, with more than 80 students currently enrolled. The University's athlete in residence Melissa Breen is patron of the scholarship and awarded them to the students today along with Anne Foote.

Scholarship recipients

Emily Brichacek
Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Honours)

5,000m and 10,000m runner
*unable to attend ceremony as is competing in the US

Emily Brichacek, 24, was the winner of the 5,000m title at the Australia Athletic Championships in 2014 and represented Australia in the Commonwealth Games last year. The runner has already used funding received from the scholarship to help her get one step closer to the Olympics Games in 2016 by making a qualify time for the event ahead of team selection.

"I am extremely honoured to have been chosen as a recipient of the Eldon and Anne Foote Trust Elite Athlete Scholarship. With the support I received from this scholarship I was able to fund flights and accommodation to the United States to compete, with my first race overseas producing an 11 second personal best as well as a qualifying time for the 5,000m event at the 2015 World Athletics Championships and 2016 Rio Olympics," Brichacek said.

Jonathan Goerlach
Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science and Bachelor of Sports Management

Jonathan Goerlach, 32, is a globally ranked para-triathlete (swimming, cycling and running) who won the Australian and Oceanic Paratriathlon Championship and the Elwood ITU Paratriathlon World Cup in 2014 and recently claimed the title at the 2015 Oceania Para Triathlon.

Goerlach has Usher Syndrome that saw him lose his night vision by age 18 and his peripheral vision by 30. He was also born with a hearing impairment which requires him to wear hearing aids. He competes with a guide, fellow student Jack Bigmore.

"Being a recipient means I am now free of the ongoing financial battle that university and being an elite athlete throws at you. When you look at that challenging equation you can begin to build a sense of how significant the Eldon and Anne Foote Trust Elite Athlete Scholarship will be in helping me achieve my goals," Goerlach said.

Damon Morton
Bachelor of Science

Damon Morton, 18, competes in biathlon, which is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Morton qualified at age 17 to represent Australia in the Under 19 International Biathlon Union World Cup, making him just the second Australian athlete to qualify this century. He finished 11th at the 2014 World Youth and Junior Championships, the best-ever result at this level by an Australian.

"The scholarship is a huge help in being able to continue in my sport because, without it, it would have been seriously difficult to go to a university and keep up with training/competitions," the first-year student said.

Allison Rice
Bachelor of Physiotherapy

Allison Rice, 21,has competed for Australia at the Junior World Championships, Youth Commonwealth Games and in the Junior Road Cycling team, and at just 19 won the Under 19 Road Race National Championships in 2012. After making the adjustment from road to track racing she won bronze in the team pursuit and silver in women's point race at the Oceania Championships 2014.

"I am honoured to be one of the recipients of the Eldon and Anne Foote Trust Elite Athlete Scholarships for 2015. It is rewarding to be acknowledged and supported by the University of Canberra as this will greatly assist me in pursuing and achieving in my commitments to both sport and study," the third-year student said.

Kathryn Ross
Bachelor of Nursing
Paralympic rower

Double sculls rower Kathryn Ross, 33, won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, goldat the 2011 International Adaptive Regatta and back-to-back gold medals in the mixed double sculls at the 2013 World Rowing Championships.

Ross has overcome great adversity to achieve these results, as her right knee and ankle joints were fused together following an accident with a ride-on lawnmower when she was a child.

"It is an absolute honour to be selected as one of the recipients of this scholarship, I am really grateful," Ross said. "There are so many other great athletes that could have won it. This is a big relief for me and it will go a long way to help support me so I can put even more into my studies."

Tristan Thomas
Bachelor of Arts in Architecture
400m hurdler and runner

Tristan Thomas, 28, has represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games, two World University Games, three World Championships and at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He won gold in both the 400m hurdles and the 400m relay at the 2009 University Games while a student at the University.

"Life is like good architecture: The more breathtaking the feat, the more integral the support," he said of receiving the scholarship.