Eight Bondies bound for Tokyo Olympics

July 5, 2021

Eight athletes from Bond University are a study of success after securing their places at the Tokyo Olympics.

Bond’s athletes will set the gold standard on land, water and sea in Tokyo with swimmers Maddy Gough, Alex Graham (Class of 2015), Jenna Strauch (Class of 2017) and Elijah Winnington, sailor Mat Belcher (Class of 2001), kayaker Jean van der Westhuyzen (Class of 2018), runner Alex Beck (Class of 2010) and Bond Rugby 7s player Maddison Levi set to represent Australia.

Alumnus Belcher (Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Project Management, Master of Valuation and Property Management) is the only athlete to have represented at the Olympics previously, having claimed gold at the 2012 London Olympics and silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

In Tokyo he will compete in the 470 class with crewmate Will Ryan.

“We were super-proud of the Olympic silver medal but we both came away knowing we had some stuff that could have improved,” Belcher said.

“Hopefully we can learn from some mistakes and improve at Tokyo.

“We wouldn’t have continued had we not thought we could do better as a team. I’m thankful that we both have the commitment and the drive because it is a lot of time and training, a lot of risk and a lot of money as well.”

Swimmers and Georgina Hope Rinehart Swimming Excellence Scholarship recipients Gough, Graham, Strauch and Winnington will all appear at their first Olympics.

Alumni Graham (Bachelor of Sports Management, MBA) and Ms Strauch (Bachelor of Biomedical Science) have been the squad leaders for some time at Bond University and were both relieved to make the team after such a long journey.

Graham will compete in the 4x200m freestyle and is considered a strong chance of a gold medal having won the corresponding race at the 2019 World Championships, while Strauch will take on the 200m breaststroke.

“I really want to give it a red-hot crack and we have a pretty star-studded line-up in that relay,” Graham said.

“It’ll be a fantastic race to be a part of, probably will be one of the races of the Olympics.

“We won gold at the 2019 World Championships and hopefully we can bring gold home at the Olympics.”

Current student Maddy Gough (Bachelor of Biomedical Science) broke the Australian 1500m record on her way to qualifying for the Olympics and will create history at Tokyo as it will be the first time the event is held for women at the Olympics.

“It is amazing to be a part of making history,” Gough said.

“Australia has so many amazing distance swimmers.

“I am definitely aiming to make the final and hope to go faster that I went at trials.”

Student Elijah Winnington (Bachelor of Business) looks a strong medal chance in the men’s 400m freestyle and he’ll also compete in the 200m and 4x200m events.

In athletics, alumnus Alex Beck (Bachelor of Exercise Science, Doctor of Physiotherapy) became the first man in 30 years to win the national 200 and 400m titles and will compete in the 400m at Tokyo.

Kayaker and alumnus Jean van der Westhuyzen (Bachelor of Business) will compete in the K1 1000m and the K2 1000m.

Bond University Rugby’s Maddison Levi was picked for the Pearls Rugby 7s side after starring for the University in its AON Uni7s National title win.