Rugby star Millie Boyle and Tokyo Olympics hopeful Alex Graham were recently named Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year at the annual Bond University Blues Awards.
The judges faced one of the toughest decisions in the 30-year history of the awards with all seven finalists boasting a record of achievement on national and international stages.
It was Graham’s second consecutive win, matching that of Bond alumni Grant Hackett in 2001 and 2002.
The swimmer’s stellar 2019 included gold, silver and bronze medals at the world swimming championships in South Korea and being named in the Australian Dolphins’ leadership team.
Boyle vice-captained the Australian Wallaroos in rugby union, won a NRLW premiership with the Brisbane Broncos, debuted for NSW in State of Origin, and debuted for the Australian Jillaroos in both 13-a-side and nines formats.
She recently graduated with a Diploma of Sport Management.
The black-tie event had special significance this year as the university continues to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The night featured a salute to past Bond champions including Hackett, Mat Belcher and Karni Liddell.
Graham, 24, is currently preparing for the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Trials in Adelaide in June from which the Dolphins team will be selected for the Tokyo Olympics the following month.
If picked, it will be his first Olympics after winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
It has a been a long road back from disappointment at the 2013 world swimming championships in Barcelona where the then-teenager failed to live up to his own expectations in the pool.
From there he missed selection in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I questioned whether swimming was for me and it took me a few years to get over that,” Graham said.
But watching the Rio Games on TV ignited a fire in Graham that has him on the verge of joining the Australian team in Japan.
Boyle, 21, is currently on the sidelines recovering from a bulging disc in her neck.
“They said it would take six months, so we’ll just have to wait and see how it responds,” she said.
The prop forward is hoping to be fit for the women’s State of Origin at Sunshine Coast Stadium on June 19.
“Bond has been amazing. It was certainly a juggle last year,” Boyle said.
“I played a lot of sport in 2019 and Bond was very helpful in letting me achieve my goals on and off the field.”
Bond University Executive Director of Sport Garry Nucifora said Graham and Boyle exemplified the calibre of athletes drawn to the university’s sports program.
“Last year was a stellar one for Bond in sport,” he said.
“We've got an incredibly strong footprint in several sports, particularly AFL. Three of our four AFL sides played grand finals and we won two.
“Our rugby side is knocking on the door in Premier Rugby and we hope to have two or three swimmers at the Olympics, along with (head coach) Richard Scarce.
“Our netballers played finals in the Sapphire Series with the youngest team in the comp.”
Other nominees for sportsman and sportswoman of the year were Rachael Tilly (surfing), Elijah Winnington (swimming), Jean Van Der Westhuyzen (kayaking), Bree Masters (surf lifesaving) and Minna Atherton (swimming).
Richard Scarce (swimming) was named High Performance Coach of the Year while Ashleigh Keefe (netball, Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science) is the Elite Sport Scholar of the Year.
FULL LIST OF AWARD WINNERS
2019 Bond University Sportspeople of the Year
Alexander Graham (swimming)
Millie Boyle (rugby)
2019 Bond University Blue Award recipients
Minna Atherton (swimming)
Emily-Claire Bass (rugby)
Angus Blyth (rugby)
Millie Boyle (rugby)
Arianna Clarke (AFL)
Daniel Coleman (triathlon)
Clara Dahlenburg (handball)
Daisy Fielding (equestrian)
Madeleine Gough (swimming)
Alexander Graham (swimming)
Jemma Heran (equestrian)
Matthew Kuhnemann (cricket)
Bree Masters (surf lifesaving)
Hollie-Kate Melia (Gymnastics)
Sasha-Lee Nordengen-Corris (surf lifesaving)
Alessandro Noseda (golf)
Rosanna Relton (equestrian)
Jenna Strauch (swimming)
Laura Taylor (swimming)
Rachael Tilly (surfing)
Jean Van Der Westhuyzen (kayaking)
Joshua Warner (baseball)
Elijah Winnington (swimming)
Solomon Wright (swimming)
2019 Bond University Half Blue Award Recipients
Sam Abel (sailing)
Georgia Brehmer (AFL)
Olivia Fien (surf lifesaving)
Spencer Jeans (rugby)
Ronan Kapi (rugby)
Tshinta Kendall (rugby)
Rhys King (AFL)
Whitney Knight (football)
Tyrell Kopua (rugby)
Max McCarthy (tennis)
Matthew Minogue (rugby)
Hita Nayak (swimming)
Kirijana Petreski (tennis)
Benjamin (Charlie) Quin (triathlon)
Madeline Ransley (water polo)
Stephanie Rutherford (rugby)
Suzanne Ryan (swimming)
Hayden Sargeant (rugby)
Abigail Schoorl (swimming)
Connor Simms (swimming)
Oliver Smart (AFL)
Jackson Smith (motorsport)
Rhian Stowers (rugby)
Melinda Sun (badminton)
Jack Winchester (rugby)
2019 Elite Sport Scholar
Ashleigh Keefe (netball, Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science)
2019 High Performance Coach of the Year