Students’ fast track to Commonwealth Games
by Rosanna Galvin
Two UniSA students are getting ready to take on the world at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland this month.
Olympian and Bachelor of Human Movement student Matthew Glaetzer (pictured right) will compete in the track cycling sprint team while Bachelor of Public Relations student Sean Roberts will make his international debut in the T37 cerebral palsy 100m sprint on the field.
Matthew is no stranger to the fast pace of international competition, having competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London where the men’s cycling sprint team finished fourth.
A relative newcomer to the sport, getting on the bike just five years ago, Glaetzer will compete in the Sprint, Team Sprint and Keirin (motor-paced racing) events at the Commonwealth Games. At just 21-years-old, he says he is looking forward to representing Australia with the world watching.
“It’s always exciting knowing that I have an opportunity to represent the Australian public on the world stage,” he says.
“It is the ultimate achievement for an athlete, so to be given this chance again at my first Commonwealth Games is awesome.
“I actually started off doing athletics but I was forced to give that up due to injury. After two years of not doing any competitive sport, my school teacher recommended a come-and-try triathlon so I gave it a go and loved the cycling leg of the race.
“I then decided to join a club and just race for fun with no expectations but within two years I was representing my country.”
Meanwhile Sean (pictured right) will be stepping onto international soil for the first time when he touches down in Glasgow as part of the Commonwealth Games team. Sean, who says his cerebral palsy has never held him back, is excited about the chance to represent his country as an elite athlete.
“Making the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games is definitely my biggest achievement to date. It’s the first time I’ve been selected for an international team,” he says.
“It’s also my first time overseas so it’s a bit nerve-wracking. But I’m just looking forward to the experience and getting the chance to compete against some of the world’s top athletes – and running on the same track as some of my idols like Usain Bolt will be incredible.
“I don’t feel like I face any extra challenges because of my disability. Perhaps it takes me a few more steps to reach a goal – most athletes probably move from a to b while I might need to go from a1 to a2 and a3 before reaching b but I get there in the end.”
For Sean, who has been involved in athletics for as long as he can remember, it’s been a challenge to pursue his athletic goals at the same time as working part-time and studying at university but he says it’s about perfecting the balancing act.
“I’ve got a really heavy training schedule leading up to the Games with gym or track sessions on most days,” he says.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge this semester balancing study with training and a part-time job but everyone has been very supportive so I just try to be organised and keep on top of everything.”
Matthew echoes Sean’s sentiments about the struggle to juggle study and training but agrees it’s worth the effort.
“Balancing my studies with all of my training and travel is tough because I am always physically and mentally drained from the daily training sessions but I am only studying one course per semester so the work load isn't too bad,” Matthew says.
“I know it’s important to work towards life after professional sport and I hope my degree will help lead me into a future career in physiotherapy.”
The 2014 Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games will run from July 23 to August 3, bringing together athletes from than 70 countries.