Rowing duo headed for London
The University of Adelaide has two members of its rowing squad headed for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Chris Morgan and James McRae have both qualified as part of the men's Quadruple Scull rowing team for the upcoming Olympic Games.
Both 29-year-old Morgan and 24-year-old McRae have studied at the University whilst maintaining their push as professional sportspeople and are now reaping the rewards.
Morgan, a Commerce and Computer Science graduate of the University, is a back-to-back World Champion in the men's Quadruple Scull.
Despite these professional feats, he lists his ability to "maintain a High Distinction average whilst studying a one-and-a-half full-time load at University and rowing for Australia [at the same time]" as one of his finest personal achievements.
As reported by the Adelaidean in 2005, Morgan's entry into the sport of rowing was "a stroke of luck".
During O Week in 2003, the University held a rowing machine competition, with a prize of alcohol for the fastest time recorded by a student.
Morgan had never rowed before and was motivated simply by winning a carton of beer on offer.
He entered the event, won, and from there launched a highly successful career as an international rower.
McRae's early career in the sport followed a much more conventional path after he joined the Murray Bridge Rowing Club as a 12-year-old.
He has now developed into a world-class rower and due to his success has been honoured with a life membership at the local rowing club.
McRae is in his final year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical/Sports) at the University of Adelaide.
Early in his studies McRae said he found it difficult to manage the workload when coupled with his elite rowing program. However, as he continues to juggle study with his professional sporting career there have been big improvements, due to a number of "understanding lecturers, as well as finding the right people to negotiate alternative arrangements".
Both athletes are heavily involved with the recently re-developed Adelaide University Boat Club.
McRae said the increased support of the University and, in particular, departing Vice-Chancellor and President Professor James McWha, have ensured both the equipment and facilities have drastically improved.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Morgan and McRae made up half of the men's Quadruple Sculls that finished marginally off the podium in fourth position.
As McRae recounts: "We made it through the semi-final reasonably comfortably, however in the final we did not have the exceptional race we needed and ended up missing the bronze medal by a fraction of a†second."
"However, with three members from this crew racing the quad again in London, we hope to use the experience we have gained from the past four years and make sure we get it right on the day," he said.
They are the reigning World Champions in their event after upsetting a strong group at the most recent Rowing World Championship held in November 2011 and are confident they can reach a podium finish at the London Olympics.
All of the rowing events featured in the 2012 Olympic Games are scheduled to be held from 28 July until 4 August at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre in London.
Story by Tom Beilby