Maddie Groves and Mathew Belcher named Sportspeople of the Year

November 30, 2016

Olympic medallists, sailor Mathew Belcher and swimmer Maddie Groves, were last night named Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year at the Bond University Blues Awards.

It's the second time Belcher and Groves have taken out the top gong, with the pair awarded the same titles in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Held annually, the Bond University Blues Awards celebrate and acknowledge the sporting achievements of Bond's student athletes and clubs, with past winners including Olympic gold medal swimmer Melanie Wright (nee Schlanger), Queensland Reds’ and former Wallaby rugby player Ben Daley and Ironman Ky Hurst.

Belcher sailed his way to Olympic gold in London 2012 and this year took home the silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games. He was a six-time World Champion in the 470 Class event from 2010 to 2015, and in 2014 was named the Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

This year, Belcher also took out first place in the 470 European Championships and the Trofeo SAR Pincesa Sofia Palma de Majorca, both in Spain, and placed second at the World Cup in Hyeres, France.

The 34-year-old graduated from Bond with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2009 and is currently studying a Master of Urban Development and Sustainability at the university.

Belcher is a member of the Bond Elite Sport Program (BESP), which provides support to rising athletes to balance their study and sporting ambitions.

"For me, it's an absolute privilege to be a professional athlete and a privilege for me to be at Bond," said Belcher.

Bond student Groves won a silver medal in the 200 metre butterfly at the 2016 Rio Olympics, improving on her bronze medal in the same event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where she also swam in the heats for the gold medal-winning Australian freestyle relay team.

Groves was awarded the 2015 Georgina Hope Rinehart Swimming Excellence Scholarship, one of the most prestigious sporting scholarships in Australia, giving her the opportunity to compete at an elite level while gaining a first-class education at Bond University.

As part of her scholarship, Groves is now a member of the Bond Elite Sports Program (BESP) and is studying a Bachelor of Social Sciences.

Groves said she was thrilled to be recognised at the Blues Awards.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here so I can show how appreciative I am for everything," she said.

"I've been so fortunate to have such an amazing year and I really appreciate Bond's support and contribution to that, as well as the support of the Georgina Hope Rinehart Foundation."

Bond University Vice Chancellor Tim Brailsford said it had been a pleasure to witness so many sporting achievements by Bond athletes in 2016.

"Our vision is that the separation between achievement on the sporting field and achievement in academic life is not mutually exclusive," he said.

"At Bond we've embarked on a journey to try and build a bridge between the two of those and I think we've seen some outstanding examples of individuals, who through the support of this institution, have been able to achieve both on the field and off the field."

Also honoured at this year's Blues Awards was Richard Scarce who was named Coach of the Year.

Scarce is Head Coach of Bond University Swimming Club which is attracting swimmers from around the country and putting Gold Coast on the map for fostering Australia’s next generation of swimming talent.

He has seen coaching success at the 2016 Rio Olympics as well as the 2015 Commonwealth Games and has been credited as one of the driving forces behind Queensland Swimming's leap in rankings over the past five years.

Bond University Swimming Club also claimed the Champion Club award for best representing the university in all aspects of sporting life, while surf lifesaver Campbell McDonald was awarded the Elite Sport Scholar award for most outstanding academic results by an elite athlete in 2016.

The Best Sporting Moment was awarded to swimmer Alex Graham for breaking the Australian University Game's 100 metre freestyle record with a 50.43 seconds swim in Perth earlier this year; while Edward Burrows-Cheng received the Outstanding Service to Sport award for his role as Bond University Football Club President.