Students chase their Olympic dream
Two University of Adelaide students will be chasing their Olympic dream in London next month, representing Australia in cycling and badminton.
Health sciences student Annette Edmondson has been selected to compete in the gruelling Omnium - a cycling event consisting of six different races - and is also a member of the extended pre-squad for the Team Pursuit, a three-kilometre time trial in a team of four.
The 20-year-old cyclist is considered a strong chance for a medal after outstanding performances at the 2012 Track World Championships, held in April this year, when she won silver in both the Omnium and the Team Pursuit.
In a rare double at the Olympics, Annette will compete alongside her 18-year-old brother Alexander, who has also qualified for the Olympics in track cycling, just one year after making the senior Australian team.
It is the first time that Australia has been represented by siblings in track cycling at an Olympic Games.
"It's incredible that my little brother has managed to make the team, too," Annette said. "It's a situation that neither of us thought was possible for 2012," she said.
Annette started her Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in 2011 and has deferred her studies this year to concentrate on the Olympics but hopes to pick up the books again in 2013.
Meanwhile, Architecture student Leanne Choo, nicknamed "Choobuka" by her team mates, hopes to celebrate her 21st birthday next month with an Olympic medal in badminton.
Leanne, who took up badminton at the age of eight, has been ranked as high as 26 in the world in the women's doubles and represented Australia at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, reaching the quarter finals in the doubles.
Leanne currently lives in Melbourne but is studying Architecture part-time at the University of Adelaide while she pursues her sporting dream.
Time management is her biggest challenge in combining tertiary studies with her sporting commitments, particularly given the travel that is involved in professional sport.
Along with Annette, she is a member of the University of Adelaide's Elite Athlete Support Program, which helps approximately 50 students balance their academic and sporting commitments.
"The flexibility this program allows us makes a big difference," she said. "My lecturers and tutors are aware of my situation and have been willing to negotiate my course with alternative assessments."
The Olympic Games badminton events will be held at Wembley Arena from Saturday 28 July to Sunday 5 August and the track cycling events will take place at the Olympic Park Velodrome from Thursday 2-7 August.
Story by Tom Beilby