Outnumbered but not outclassed, University of Tasmania athletes trod a well-worn path to the podium at the Australian University Games in Sydney
By Shaun McManus
The Australian University Games, Australia's largest multisport competition, involved more than 7000 athletes from 41 tertiary institutions across the country.
Despite only having a relatively small team of 18 competitors participating in athletics, beach volleyball and rugby 7s, the University Tasmania picked up a gold medal, three silvers and a bronze – all in athletics.
Dylan Evans won the team's gold medal in the 3000m steeplechase, was second in the 10,000m and third in the 5000m, while Samantha Lind produced two brilliant runs to win silver in both the 400m and 800m.
The win by Evans, a triathlete from Launceston studying Health Science, was all the more impressive considering he had not trained specifically for the steeplechase.
"I've only ever done it once before and that was three-and-a-half years ago, so I was really nervous about jumping over the actual steeples," he said.
Evans combined with Josh Harris, who was hobbled by an ankle injury but battled to fourth place in the 5,000m, to finish 11th out of 24 universities in the men's athletics.
Both of Hobart-based Bachelor of Business student Lind's silver-medal winning runs were extraordinary, for different reasons.
In the 400m, she came very close to disqualification before the race even began after arriving late, while in the 800m she stormed home from fifth place with 150m to go to record a PB time by six seconds.
The beach volleyball team of Steph Hind and Shanyce Kitson, also from Hobart, fought back courageously after losing their first two games to finish an impressive sixth out of 13 teams.
They recorded victories over Deakin, Melbourne University and University of Queensland along the way.
"We had a rough start, but then we just got our own game back and started playing well," Hind said.
The rugby 7s side from Launceston managed to beat a strong Macquarie University outfit before eventually finishing eighth.
Jonathon Pini, who organised the team, said his players played tough, competitive rugby despite being crippled by injuries.
"Pretty much all the boys played with injury," Pini said.