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Curtin invests in elite athlete program

Media release

Curtin University’s commitment to elite sports has seen the University appoint a dedicated Elite Athlete Coordinator to help leading student athletes balance their training and study commitments.

A former elite athlete herself, a coach and a university sports development manager, Tarryn Dickerson takes on the role of Elite Athlete Coordinator. The program will run out of the Curtin Stadium, an award-winning and state-of-the-art sport and fitness complex.

Professor Jill Downie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education and former Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Health Sciences, said that sport played a major role in campus and community life at Curtin University, with Curtin becoming part of the Australia‐wide Elite Athlete Friendly University Agreement in 2004.

“The investment of this dedicated coordinator, and a new three-year partnership with Australian Institute of Sport High Performance/Olympic hockey, will see the program well recognised across the University and sporting fraternity,” said Professor Downie.

Since its conception nearly 10 years ago, Curtin has continued to grow its Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) Program, contributing significant resources to support and assist its elite athlete students so they can successfully integrate their academic and sporting aspirations.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor said Curtin was immensely proud to have had five students represent their country at the 2012 London Olympics: Jayde Taylor in Women’s Hockey, who is studying a Bachelor of Arts (Interior Architecture); Anna Flanagan also in Women’s Hockey (Bachelor of Arts – Journalism); Aaron Younger in Water Polo, who is studying Mechanical Engineering; and Stephen Bird in Canoeing, who is studying a Bachelor of Commerce (Management) and Shelley Chaplin, third-time Paralympian who won silver in London in Women’s Wheelchair Basketball (Bachelor of Education – Primary).

Comprehensive research from the Australian Institute of Sport and student athlete testimonies demonstrate that athletes who successfully integrate their studies and sport can achieve excellent results in both areas.

Elite Athlete Coordinator Mrs Dickerson explains that completing an education at the same time as training for elite sport is challenging. Her understanding of the issues these students face comes from her own personal experiences. While studying she was also achieving state, national and international championship success in both Women’s Artistic Gymnastics and Diving and also as a State Gymnastics Coach.

“Each student athlete’s situation is unique and it’s my role to help students work out a schedule that allows them to keep up with their studies without compromising their sporting goals,” said Mrs Dickerson.

“I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the elite athletes and staff at our University to get the word out that Curtin really sees the value of combining both sporting and academic pursuits.”

As part of her role Mrs Dickerson will be able to effectively negotiate and implement guiding principles across the University in relation to academic planning, flexible study options and course entry to provide students with the opportunity to reach their potential and achieve academic and sporting excellence.