Published on 26 June 2014
Semester break means a chance to unwind for many students, but two University of the Sunshine Coast student athletes will instead be flying to Glasgow to test their physical and mental skills at the Commonwealth Games.
Blake Cochrane, 23, and Tessa Wallace, 20, will compete in swimming events at the Games, to be held from 23 July to 3 August. Both former recipients of USC’s Sportsperson of the Year award, they leave on 12 July with the Australian team.
Blake, of Buderim, has been living and breathing the nearby USC campus during an intense schedule in the lead-up to his second Commonwealth Games.
“This semester I’ve been at the USC pool every day except Sundays and at USC five times a week for my Clinical Exercise Science degree,” said Blake, a world champion swimmer and London Paralympic gold medallist.
“It’s been tough but it’s worked quite well. I train early, go to class, go home for a rest and head back for training in the afternoon.
After four exams in four days, Blake said he was determined to get good grades to meet his goals for 2016 – finishing his degree and competing at the Rio Paralympics.
However, he was also looking forward to the tapering stage of training and the University’s semester break which starts this weekend (28 July).
Blake, who moved to the Coast in 2011 to train with USC’s High Performance Paralympic Squad, will compete in the 200m individual medley at Glasgow.
“There’s a chance of pulling a medal and I’m feeling confident, but it always comes down to what happens on the day,” said Blake, who this year received a Medal of the Order of Australia and a Senior Sunshine Coast Sports Star of the Year award.
Tessa, of Shelly Beach, was also looking forward to racing at her second Commonwealth Games.
“I’ve had a few hiccups in preparation, injury-wise, but you know me – I don’t let anything get in the way,” said Tessa, who has fought off viruses and other ailments.
“I’ll be going into my main event, the 200m breaststroke, as mentally prepared as ever and aiming for that podium finish.”
Also with a firm eye on the Rio Olympics in 2016, the London Olympic semi-finalist has been combining training at the Pelican Waters Caloundra Swimming Club with part-time study for her USC Bachelor of Communication.
“I’m in my second year and I’m really finding my niche with the journalism major,” said Tessa, a joint winner of the University’s first Sports Scholarship in 2013.
Another USC student named in the Australian team for Glasgow is Jodie Kenny (nee Schulz), who completed two years of her Sport and Exercise Science degree before deferring for hockey commitments.
Jodie, 26, formerly of Wamuran and now living in Western Australia, is an Olympic hockey player and current Hockeyroo who recently gained a silver medal at the Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands.
“We’re setting out sights on the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and if we put together similar performances as the World Cup and play to our potential then we are a great chance to take out gold,” she said.
Several Sunshine Coast athletes heading for Glasgow have also used USC facilities in their training programs, including pole vaulters Alana Boyd and her brother Matt Boyd and swimmer Remy Fairweather.
— Julie Schomberg