Olympics dream a reality for UniSA alumni
by Kelly Stone
Three UniSA alumni will each fulfil a lifelong dream when they head to the Olympic Games in London next month.
Physiotherapy graduate Jessica Trengove (pictured right) will compete for Australia in the women’s marathon. She will be accompanied to London by her coach, teaching graduate Adam Didyk, while Master’s physiotherapy graduate Angela Dunsford will work as a physiotherapist at the Games.
Trengove, 24, says competing as an athlete at the Olympic Games was always her childhood dream growing up in Naracoorte, though she didn’t really know which sport she wanted to compete in.
“I just thought the Olympics looked awesome and wanted to go,” says Trengove, who graduated from UniSA in 2010.
It wasn’t until Trengove’s third year of her physiotherapy degree that she started to train specifically for running.
“I didn’t necessarily see myself becoming a marathon runner or an athlete competing at an elite level when I started university but I think the knowledge I gained from the degree certainly helped me to reach my current level,” she says.
“It helped me understand my training, injuries, biomechanics, and psychological aspects of running and manage myself accordingly. Being a physiotherapist certainly has come in handy as a runner!
“Competing at an Olympic Games became a formal goal of mine about four years ago but London 2012 only really became a goal in my mind about one year ago.”
Trengove, who works at Flex Rehabilitation Clinic in Adelaide, had only competed in one full marathon (42.2km) before being selected for London – the Nagoya Marathon in Japan in March, which she completed in a brilliant two hours, 31 minutes.
Trengove says her stunning marathon debut makes London even more exciting because she knows there is room for improvement, not just for her next marathon in London, but more generally in the years ahead.
“I think London will be a great chance to ‘have a go’ and aim for a personal best, while gaining as much knowledge and experience as I can to help me progress and achieve my future goals,” she says.
Coach Adam Didyk (pictured right) says Trengove is a dedicated and hard-working athlete and she will be in great shape when she gets on the start line in London.
“I don’t like to predict a position or finishing time for Jess at the Olympics, but know that whatever I have in mind, she will find a way to exceed even my own optimistic predictions,” says Didyk, 30, who works as a Year 7 teacher at St Michael’s College Junior School at Beverley.
Didyk coaches about 30 athletes who are part of ‘Team Tempo’, training for distances ranging from 400 metres to marathon.
He says joining Trengove in London will be an amazing experience as a coach, and will provide him with an invaluable opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best coaches and athletes in the world.
Meanwhile, heading to the Olympic Games to work as a physiotherapist is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream for Angela Dunsford (pictured right).
Dunsford, 30, is Director of Good Country Physiotherapy in the South East. She will work in the Athletes’ Village, treating athletes from any country and any sport.
She is a recent graduate of UniSA’s Master of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy and says her master degree played a major role in her winning her volunteer position at the Games.
“The Olympics won’t take physios with less than a master qualification so it was vital that I had that, as well as experience with sporting teams,” she says.
“I see the Olympics as the pinnacle of sporting competition worldwide and therefore as a sports physiotherapist, the ultimate place to work! I hope to meet physiotherapists and other professionals from around the world, establishing new friendships and networks.
“I hope to learn from both the multidisciplinary environment and the elite athletes competing at the highest level. There will undoubtedly be some very stressful times but I hope these will be counteracted by the sense of achievement and satisfaction when an athlete is able to perform at his or her best in competition.”
Dunsford has worked as a general physiotherapist in her own private practice in the South East since graduating with her Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2003. In 2010 she decided to fine-tune her clinical skills into her main area of interest, Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy.
“The master degree provided me with a fantastic opportunity to learn from world experts on a wide range of topics in these fields,” she says.
Dunsford’s trip to London will be her second trip to the UK this year. She travelled to the UK with the Brighton Chiefs Rugby Union Football Club on an invitational tour of England and Wales, and then stayed on in London volunteering as a physiotherapist at the British Olympic Swimming Trials.
All three alumni are excited to be heading to London next month, ready for the Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 27.