Gold medallist is USC’s top sportsperson

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Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jake Packard has been named USC’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2018.

The powerful breaststroke swimmer and Animal Ecology student received his trophy from USC’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill at 7pm tonight at the USC Sports Awards ceremony on campus at Sippy Downs.

Packard, 24, of Palmview claimed gold as a member of Australia’s 4x100m medley relay team in one of the most exciting races in the pool at the Commonwealth Games in April.

He and his team mates Mitch Larkin, Grant Irvine and Kyle Chalmers stormed home to pip the England team by just 0.09 of a second and, in the process, set a new Commonwealth Games record time of 3:31:04.

Packard’s campaign at the Games also included fourth places in both the 50m breaststroke final (27.53 seconds) and in the 100m breaststroke final (59.70 seconds).

At the 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Japan in August, Packard was presented with three medals – one of each colour.

These were gold in the mixed medley relay (with Mitch Larkin, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell in an Oceanic record time of 3:38:91), silver in the 100m breaststroke in 59.20 seconds, and bronze in the medley relay with Mitch Larkin, Grant Irvine and Kyle Chalmers (in a time of 3:30:52).

Packard has also represented Australia at the Rio Olympics, World Championships in Russia and the World Short Course Championships over recent years.

The ceremony also featured a Q&A session with rising surf lifesaving champion Alex Wright who finished second at the recent Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship in Hawaii.

Wright was also among eight USC students to receive Full Blue awards for ongoing outstanding achievement, with the other recipients being netballer Kelsey Browne, swimmer Ellie Cole, surf lifesaver Ryan Paroz, archer Chloe Grabs, cross-country skier Klaus Jungbluth, and wheelchair basketballers Steven Elliott and Hannah Dodd.
 
Half Blue awards for sporting excellence went to Russell Nasir Taib (athletics – sprinting), Renae Saunders (karate), Samantha Thomasson (powerlifter) and Melia Larkin (touch football).

Seven students – netballer Caitlin Bassett, swimmers Blake Cochrane, Jake Packard, Jacob Templeton, Leah Neale and Kareena Lee, and taekwondo competitor Cameron Taylor – were honoured with Continued Excellence Awards.
 
USC’s Team of the Year award was presented to the men’s futsal team that won a bronze medal at UniSport Australia’s National Division 1 Championships in September.

An Outstanding Service to Sport award was presented to Jacqueline Gofton and Louise Skuthorpe for their work with the USC cheer and dance team that also won bronze at the UniSport National Championships, Evie Barnes for her work with volleyball and beach volleyball and Samantha Kinnealy for her contribution to netball.

 
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