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Students in Focus

Racing towards Tokyo 2020 ... and a double degree

For Marcelo Cabezas, studying a double Bachelor degree and training for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is not overwhelming … it’s exciting.

Marcelo Cabezas is about to enter his fourth year of study at the University of Canberra. And while he takes his studies seriously today, his entry to university was a bit ‘hit and miss’.

After navigating his way through his first year of studies towards a Bachelor of Arts, Marcelo found he was lacking a certain focus, but he eventually found his feet and discovered an entirely new world through a double Bachelor degree in Sport and Exercise Science/Sports Management.

“I have become more focused as my student journey has progressed over the years. In my first year, I wasn’t too serious about what I was doing – I enjoyed making a few cool movies and had loads of fun, but I realised it wasn’t the career for me,” said Marcelo.

It is not surprising that Marcelo discovered a passion for studying Sport and Exercise Science/Sports Management, as it perfectly coincides with his other interest. He is paddling his way towards the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after being recruited by his paddling coach, Sebastian Marczak, in a bid to ‘win gold’.

“Taking my sport seriously means that I apply the same approach to my studies. In my mind, they are intertwined,” said Marcelo.

“It’s a matter of priorities and planning, coupled with motivation and commitment. The idea is to keep focused on the goal.

“I balance my training with my study priorities and work commitments, and my social life is pretty much centred around these three. Life is a routine, and I ensure that I am disciplined to keep all my activities on track.”

Marcelo is also a Student Ambassador at UC and works part-time at Bubble Soccer2u as an event host, taking care of sports-themed events and parties around the ACT. How does he find the time to do it all?

“If you are motivated enough to do something, you are going to do it by applying a no-excuses approach,” said Marcelo.

On any typical day, you are likely to find Marcelo out on Lake Burley Griffin at 6.30am – sunshine or rain, wind or snow – putting in the training required to keep his preparation for Tokyo 2020 on track.

Despite Marcelo and Sebastian being ranked number one in the C2 Men’s Open Category this season, this is not an immediate entry to Olympic selection.

The duo has raced over three seasons and improved every year but in the 2018/19 season they have out-manoeuvered all other hopefuls in their category.

“Currently we are knocking on the door to Tokyo. We are training hard and making the sacrifices to succeed,” Marcelo said.

Marcelo spends a few weekends a month in Sydney training with Sebastian at his home base to ensure that they are working like a well-oiled machine, thinking ahead and anticipating one another’s moves when competing.

Marcelo believes that this is the recipe for their current success. “Consistently training together means that I can tap into Sebastian’s experience and maturity, and I add a touch of youthful exuberance to the mix … which seems to make for a winning combination!”

As Marcelo contemplates how he is going to balance his Work Integrated Learning placements around his busy schedule this year, his enthusiasm is palpable.

“I believe that if I push for it, I will make it!” he concluded.

Words by Andy Visser

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