Gold Coast medal glory

19 April 2018

Waikato University student and silver medallist Bryony Botha (photo credit: Dianne Manson)

Congratulations to University of Waikato current and former students who competed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, bringing home two gold medals, two silvers and a bronze.

Track cyclist Bryony Botha won silver in the women’s team pursuit race, securing New Zealand’s first medal of the Games. Bryony, currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Social Sciences, is very proud of her team’s achievement. “It was such a surreal feeling winning silver, and such an honour being New Zealand’s first medalists,” she says. “There were some ups and downs leading into the Games and there’s definitely still a lot of work to be done to get onto the top step of the podium next time, but my team and I are so proud of what we accomplished together.” Winning a medal was a dream come true for Bryony, who remembers watching the Games on TV when she was little. “I remember thinking how cool it would be to represent my country at such a big sporting event – if you told me back then I would one day get the chance to do it, I never would’ve believed you.”

University of Waikato Student-Athlete Support Hub (SASH) Academic Leader Dr Christina Ryan is committed to supporting students in achieving both their sporting and academic goals. “We are very proud of all our students and alumni who competed at the Gold Coast” she says. “SASH works with the athletes, and their faculties, to ensure that they can continue with their study whilst also participating at the highest level in their sport.”

University of Waikato Hillary Scholarship alumna Stacey Waaka helped New Zealand make history by beating Australia to win gold in the first ever women’s rugby sevens tournament at the Commonwealth Games. “I’m pretty stoked,” she says. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet, but I’m very happy with the result.”

Clockwise from top left: gold medallist Stacey Waaka, bronze medallist Nicole van der Kaay, silver medallist Bryony Botha, silver medallists Nick Ross and Aidan Sarikaya, and gold medallist Brooke Neal.

Triathlete and former student Nicole van der Kaay claimed bronze in the triathlon mixed relay teams event at the Games. Being one of the youngest athletes of the triathlon squad, Nicole aimed to “give it everything” and she certainly kept up with the older, more experienced athletes. “I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into my first Games experience, but I loved every aspect of it,” she says. “The bronze medal was truly the icing on the cake. I'm still a bit taken aback when I think of the moment – did it really happen? I'm more motivated than ever to chase that feeling and achieve more success in the future! Bring on 2018 and beyond.”

Bachelor of Laws student and Prime Minister’s Athlete scholar Aidan Sarikaya and Hillary Scholarship alum Nick Ross helped the New Zealand men’s hockey team claim a Commonwealth Games silver medal, while Hillary Scholarship alumna Brooke Neal took gold in women’s hockey, following a 4-1 Black Sticks win over Australia at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre. “Winning gold is definitely my career highlight,” says Brooke. “This is a first for our team, we’ve never won gold at a major event. It’s very special to be a part of history, and we are truly humbled by the amount of support we have received."

The strong University of Waikato contingent at the Commonwealth Games also included Sir Edmund Hillary scholars: Bachelor of Management Studies student Sam Sinclair (netball), Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance student Kelly Jury (netball), and Bachelor of Social Sciences student Ellesse Andrews (cycling). University of Waikato Hillary Scholarship alumni Myles Browne-Cole (shooting), Helena Gasson (swimming), Susannah and Oliver Leydon-Davis (badminton), Camille Buscomb (athletics), Zac Millar (squash), Shaunna Polley (beach volleyball), Cameron French (athletics) and Toby Fitzpatrick (wrestling) also flew the national flag in the New Zealand team and made the University of Waikato proud.

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