Triple Paralympic bronze medallist Katja Dedekind of Sippy Downs has been named the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2021.
Dedekind, 20, who starred as a member of the Australian Paralympic swimming team in Tokyo in August, received her award at USC’s annual Sports Awards ceremony last night at the Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club.
The USC Spartans swimmer and Arts student claimed bronze medals in both the S13 100m backstroke and S13 400m freestyle in Tokyo, adding to the bronze she won in the S13 100m backstroke in Rio in 2016, and finished fourth in the S13 50m freestyle.
At last night’s event for student athletes, Dedekind also picked up a Continued Excellence Award, an honour she shared with Australian Olympic softballer and Master of Education student Kaia Parnaby.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Sporting and Academic Excellence Award, which celebrates athletes who excel in their chosen sport while maintaining a high academic level, went to William Thorley, who represented Hong Kong in the open water swimming event at the Olympics.
Thorley, a Computer Science student, also collected a prestigious Full Blue award for ongoing outstanding achievement. Other recipients of this award last night were Karla Pretorius (netball) and Keira Stephens (para swimming).
Half Blue awards for sporting excellence went to Alexandra Clarke (kayaking), Lucy Dring (swimming), Keely Andrew (surfing), Hayden Cotter (surf lifesaving and open water swimming) and Alastair MacKellar (cycling).
USC Spartans women’s basketball team, which won gold at the UniSport Nationals on the Gold Coast in September and made the finals of the inaugural University Basketball League (abandoned due to COVID restrictions in Sydney), claimed the Team of the Year award.
And Outstanding Service to Sport awards went to Gemma Kinnealy (netball), Leona Collins (netball) and Kai Pang (badminton).
Last night’s ceremony also featured an interview with Olympic triple gold medallist Kaylee McKeown, who trains with the USC Spartans high-performance squad, and the presentation of special awards to all USC-affiliated athletes and officials who attended the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year.
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