Celebrating Waikato University’s Olympic connections

The University of Waikato is well-represented at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which runs from Friday 23 July to Sunday 8 August 2021.

23 Jul 2021

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games runs from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Photo: Alex Smith on Unsplash.

Eight current students and nine Waikato University alumni are among the elite New Zealand athletes competing in the Olympics across a range of sporting disciplines including track cycling, rowing, kayaking, rugby sevens, hockey and athletics.

Current students include:

  • Bryony Botha (track cycling - women’s team pursuit/Bachelor of Social Sciences in Psychology)
  • Max Brown (canoe/kayak sprint/Master of Business and Management)
  • Jackie Gowler (rowing - women’s eight/Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance)
  • Jack Lopas (rowing - men’s double scull/Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours)
  • Hannah Osborne (rowing - women’s double scull/Bachelor of Environmental Planning)
  • Jordan Parry (rowing - men’s single scull/Bachelor of Social Sciences majoring in Psychology)
  • Caleb Shepherd (rowing - cox for the women’s eight/Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching in Secondary - English)
  • Ellesse Andrews (track cycling - women’s Keirin and individual sprint, Bachelor of Communications Studies majoring in Public Relations)

Among our alumni at the Tokyo Olympics are:

  • Camille Buscomb (athletes - women’s 5000m and 10,000m/Bachelor of Arts, majored in Psychology - 2016)
  • Sam Dakin (track cycling - men’s team sprint and Keirin/Bachelor of Business Analysis, majored in Financial Analysis - 2018)
  • Stacey Fluhler (rugby sevens - women/Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance - 2017)
  • Callum Gilbert (canoe slalom - men’s K1/Bachelor of Science, majored in Computer Science - 2017)
  • Megan Hull (hockey/Bachelor of Communications Studies, majored in Public Relations - 2016)
  • Shaun Kirkham (rowing - men’s eight/Bachelor of Communications Studies, majored in Management Communication - 2020)
  • Jaime Nielsen (track cycling - women’s team pursuit/Bachelor of Science, majored in Chemistry - 2006)
  • Nick Ross (hockey/Bachelor of Business Analysis, majored in Financial Analysis - 2012)
  • Callum Saunders (track cycling - men’s Keirin and individual sprint, Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours - 2020)
  • Emma Twigg (rowing - women’s single scull, Bachelor of Communications Studies, majored in Public Relations - 2010)

Many of the current athletes and alumni attended Waikato University on sporting scholarships including Prime Minister Scholarships and the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship.

In addition, Waikato University staff and researchers are involved in the Tokyo Olympics in a number of ways.

PhD students Stephen Fenemor and Conor McNeill from the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance in Tauranga are supporting our athletes in Tokyo.

Stephen is a performance physiologist at High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) and is using his PhD research on heat acclimatisation and heat management to help our athletes deal with Tokyo’s hot, humid summer conditions. Conor is also proud to be at the Tokyo Olympics, working as a strength and conditioning specialist alongside our Olympians.

Professor Holly Thorpe and Professor Belinda Wheaton have released a new book on Action Sports and the Olympic Games - Past Present and Future.

Their book details how the International Olympic Committee has included four new action sports - surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and BMX freestyle - in the Tokyo Olympics programme to appeal to younger audiences. Read their article on The Conversation and listen to Radio New Zealand’s Nine To Noon show to find out more.

You can also hear from them and other experts at our Kaupapa Kōrero panel discussion on campus on 27 July, which is free to the public. The topic is Faster, Higher, Stronger... Riskier? Power, performance and patriotism at the COVID Olympics.

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