5 February 2014
As a world champion swimmer and Paralympic gold medallist, Blake Cochrane of Buderim certainly knows how to block out distractions and focus on his sporting goals.
The 23-year-old Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Science student takes a similar approach to his studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast, but last week found he simply couldn’t ignore two major awards bestowed on him.
Within days of sitting for a summer semester Anatomy exam, Blake was awarded a prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and named the Senior Sunshine Coast Sports Star of the Year.
It is believed Blake is the first person to receive an OAM while studying at USC. He will be presented with the medal at Parliament House in Brisbane later this year.
The OAM is in honour of Blake’s services to sport at the 2012 London Paralympics, where he won gold individually in the 100m breaststroke (SB7) and as a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Blake clinched the Sports Star of the Year Award by breaking the world record and winning gold in the 100m breaststroke (SB7) at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Canada last August.
“Receiving the OAM was a real honour. It keeps taking me back to that moment in London and jogging my memory of how exciting it was,” he said. “I’ve known about the OAM since November but wasn’t allowed to announce it.
“The Sports Star award came as a bit of a surprise to me. There were 10 world champions in that room on Friday night and to stand among that crowd and be recognised as the Senior Sports Star of the Year was incredible.”
Blake had started a degree at the University of Queensland but, after moving to the Coast in 2011 to train with the University of the Sunshine Coast High Performance Paralympic Squad, decided it would make sense to study here as well.
He said his rigorous training regime helped reinforce what he was learning at USC.
“It gives me a better understanding of how all the training and the hours that I put in as an athlete is important to what I want to achieve,” he said.
“For subjects like Exercise Physiology and Health and Development, I can see where that knowledge is coming from. To be able to apply that as an elite athlete really adds to the learning.”
Blake is still to decide how he wants to use his exercise science expertise when he graduates, whether in a clinical situation like a hospital or out in the field.
But for now, he is focussed on representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and on getting the best grades possible in the semester ahead.
— Terry Walsh