Published on 6 August 2013
Two athletes from the University of the Sunshine Coast excelled in competition at the recent 2013 World University Games in Russia that featured a host of Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions.
USC Bachelor of Business student and swimmer George O’Brien, 21, of Coolum Beach clinched his first international medal with a bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
And Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering student Charlie Copeland, 19, of Buderim made five semi-finals and one final in canoe sprint team events.
George, a former open water swimmer, now has his eye on representing Australia in the swimming pool at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
He said he was inspired by the intensity of competition at the World University Games from July 6-17 in Kazan, where he also finished eighth in the 400m final and was 15th-fastest over 1500m.
“The level of talent and competiveness internationally in pool swimming, as well as the recent placing, has spurred me along with Glasgow in my sights,” he said.
“It was surreal to be standing up on the blocks competing against current or former Olympic record holders. I can’t wait to get up there to do it again soon.”
Charlie said while he and his team mates were disappointed to finish ninth in the K4 200m final in Kazan, they were thrilled to have been among the sport’s elite.
“The winning teams in our events were those that took out gold, silver and bronze at the London Olympics, so it was an honour to be up there competing alongside them,” he said.
“I’m now straight back into training for the upcoming national kayak sprint series, and the experience in Russia has made me even more determined to be in the best shape possible to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.”
The World University Games attracted more than 10,400 international competitors from 162 countries, including 151 Australian competitors.
— Jessica Halls