Sydney at Rio: two silver and a bronze add to our tally

16 August 2016

In a blockbuster first week at Rio 2016 our athletes have continued to excel winning two silver and a bronze to add to Chloe Dalton's gold in the Rugby Sevens. Our total would see us sitting at 35th on the country tally rankings – ahead of Ireland, Slovenia and Romania.

Rowers Sasha Belonogoff and Cam Girdlestone won silver in the men’s quad scull, while rapids rider Jess Fox picked up a bronze in the kayak slalom.

Their medals followed our first gold which was awarded to Chloe Dalton who is part of the women’s Rugby Sevens team.

Cameron Girdlestone and Sasha Belonogoff

Cameron Girdlestone and Sasha Belonogoff, as half of Australia’s men’s quadruple sculls, have won silver, being pipped by the smallest of margins, 1.15 seconds as the German crew prevailed over the two kilometre rowing course.

Capturing the first silver medals for our University of Sydney representatives in Rio, the Australian crew gave it their all as they valiantly tried to catch the German crew.

Girdlestone, Belonogoff, Karsten Forsterling and James McCrae in the Aussie boat were quiet favourites heading into the final, based on their stellar 2016 performances, however the German crew, as reigning London 2012 Olympic champions and current World Champions, can never be underestimated and again proved their big-race mettle in Rio.

The Australians, like all crews had to wait an extra 24 hours to contest this final due to unsafe water conditions the day before. While the weather had improved come race time, a swirling, strong headwind challenged all boats.

Germany started fast and led all the way despite Australia closing to within less than half-a-boat length. Estonia took out the bronze.

The German crew comprised of three members from the winning London 2012 combination while for Australia, Forsterling and McRae were part of the bronze medal Australian boat at the London Games.

Belonogoff and Girdlestone are both popular and highly respected leaders in the Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC). It was a great thrill to see our men’s quad scull crew, arm-in-arm after being presented with their silver medals. Big congratulations also go to SUBC Director of Rowing, Mark Prater, who is in Rio as one of the official Rowing Australia Olympic Coaches.

Jessica Fox

In a dramatic final of the women’s slalom, the 22 year old, Jess Fox has claimed bronze.

In her final run of the course, Fox posted the leading time of 100.49 seconds with just four paddlers still to hit the whitewater, however, a later judge’s video review of her run found she brushed one gate slightly, incurring a two second penalty. Despite this setback Fox was able to hang on for bronze.

This bronze means Fox now has two Olympic medals after being a surprise silver medallist in this event at London 2012. The ever gracious Fox was happy for pre-games European training partner, Maialen Chourraut from Spain, who took out the gold. Luuka Jones, New Zealand won silver.

In the earlier semi- final, where the layout of the course gates are changed from the heats, Fox qualified confidently through to the final, finishing fifth from the 15-woman, semi-final field.

All in all, the bronze result was a magnificent performance from Fox in blustery conditions and her phenomenal talent and competitiveness means she remains a force to be reckoned with in both kayak and canoe slalom. Look out Tokyo 2020!

Day 10

Murray Stewart

Motivated by his omission from the men's K4 crew that will defend their Olympic crown, Sydney University's sprint kayaker Murray Stewart is now on a solo mission to take out the Men's Kayak Single 1000m after progressing to tonight's final.

Mown down by glandular fever earlier this year, selectors decided to leave him out of the four combination but a successive gold medal is still in sight after qualifying fastest in the semi-final stage of the K1 1000m at Lagoa Stadium, which included Danish world champion Rene Holten Poulsen.

Perhaps a bout of gold fever is coming his way.

Ella Nelson

Sydney University Athletics Club sprinter, Ella Nelson, made it through to the semi-finals of the women’s 200m with a second placing in her Round 1 heat last night (AEST).

Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova-Collio won the heat in 22.61sec, with Nelson finishing second in 22.66 and Great Britain’s Jodie Williams third in 22.69.

It was a gutsy effort from Nelson, who overcame two hamstring tears through the summer before making it to Rio de Janeiro.

“I am so happy just to have completed that race; I haven't raced since April so coming in here I was super nervous,” she said.

“I had to really think about my race plan last night and go through the motions. I kind of forgot out there, I ran a bit scared so I am definitely going to improve on that for the semi. I think I could have won that heat. That run gave me a lot of confidence knowing I can be right up there with them, especially leading into the next round knowing I am going to be up against the best in the world.”

Nelson’s time was the 11th quickest time overall, with Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago the fastest qualifier in 22.50s.

Madeline Hills

Sydney University Athletics Club member Madeline Hills ran a personal best time in the final of the women’s 3000m steeplechase last night (AEST).

The SUSF Elite Athlete Program alumna ran the course in 9:20.38 to finish a very creditable seventh.

Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet won the gold medal with a run of 8:59.75, with Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi taking silver in 9:07.12 and Emma Coburn of the US taking bronze in 9:07.63.

Hills had qualified for the final with a fourth place in her heat in a time of 9:24.16.

It has been an amazing comeback from Hills who was a champion junior – she competed at the World Juniors - before taking an eight-year break to complete a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree at Sydney University, travel, marry and start a career.

She returned to training in 2013, qualified for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she finished fourth, and won Olympic selection with a stellar 2015 European season when she ran a PB at the time of 9:21.56.

Hills will next race the Women’s 5000m in round one starting at 10:30pm tonight AEST.

Georgina Morgan

Georgina Morgan’s dreams of an Olympic Games medal were dashed last night when the Hockeyroos were defeated 4-2 in their quarter-final match against New Zealand.

The Sydney University representative has had an impressive tournament individually in a mixed performance by the team.

New Zealand took a 2-0 first half lead through goals from Anita McLaren and Kelsey Smith. Australia’s Kathryn Slattery halved the score with a goal early in the third quarter but the Kiwis responded with goals from Gemma Flynn and Olivia Merry to advance to the semi-finals.

In other quarter-finals, Germany defeated the United States 2-1, Great Britain defeated Spain 3-1 and the Netherlands were leading Argentina 2-nil at the time of going to press.

Competing in Group B, Australia opened the preliminary rounds with a 2-0 win over Japan, a 1-0 win over Argentina and a 6-1 win over India before suffering 2-1 losses to the US and to Great Britain. But their quarter-final loss saw them bow out of medal contention.

It is the first time in 32 years the Australian women’s or men’s teams have failed to win an Olympic Games medal.

Isobel Bishop, Hannah Buckling, Keesja Gofers, Lea Yanitsas and Nicola Zagame

In a heart-breaking, penalty shootout match, the Aussie Stingers were pipped at the post by Hungary 13-11 (Penalty Shootout 5:3) in their make or break quarter-final, with scores locked at 8-8 after regular time.

Continuing their tradition of blockbuster Olympic clashes with Hungary, the Stingers were in front in the second and third quarters only to have Hungary claw their way back into the game.

The worst thing about penalty shootouts is it does become a lottery and that makes the loss all the harder knowing so much is riding on the outcome, a place in the Olympic water polo semi-finals. The Australian’s were also never behind on the scoreboard throughout the four quarters.

The Stingers started aggressive and looked on top but gradually some of their players fell into foul trouble and Hungary was extracting some exclusions, giving them extra-man opportunities.

For the Stingers, goalkeeper Lee Yanitsas, had a blinder peeling off a series of brilliant saves and was the key difference between the two sides early in the game. Nicola Zagame, Isobel Bishop and Keesja Gofers gave it their all, while unfortunately experienced centre back, Hannah Buckling was injured and didn’t start.

Despite the gut-wrenching loss, the Stingers have showed what a hugely talented roster they have and proved worthy opponents in every match in Rio. A big crowd of Aussie supporters cheered them on in this game, including the Aussie Sharks resplendent in the stand in their Australian speedos, caps and nothing more.

The Olympics is not over for the Stingers who play two more matches to determine classifications 5th to 8th. Penalty shootouts haven’t been a friend to the Australians at this Olympics with our women’s football team, the Matildas also losing their quarter-final to Brazil in similar fashion.

Our Women’s Water Polo team will verse host nation Brazil, in their first game to decide the 5th to 8th classification. It’s scheduled for 12:00am, Thursday August 18, AEST.

Johnno Cotterill

Despite finishing their Preliminary Rounds with a strong 12-7 win over Greece, as reported yesterday, the Aussie Sharks have been wedged out of their Rio campaign after the overall results didn't go their way.

Hungary's 10-6 win over Brazil unfortunately means that Australia will not progress through to the Quarter Finals after finishing fifth in their pool.

Sydney Uni Lion, Johnno Cotterill, should be extremely proud of his contribution to the outfit after racking up a solid total of 8 goals throughout the rounds.

Murray Stewart

Murray Stewart, a gold medallist from London 2012 in the Men’s K4 1000m (Kayak Sprint), unfortunately suffered a bout of glandular fever earlier this year which kept him out of the water for a few weeks. This meant the governing body replaced him in the Australian K4 crew, so regrettably he won’t have the chance to defend that Olympic title in Rio. However in a positive development, Murray is now Australia’s entrant in the Men’s Kayak Single (K1), 1000m, an event where he is also a world-ranked paddler.

Stewart feels the time away from the K4 has allowed him to fine-tune his K1 skills and race strategy.

In Heat 2 of the Men’s Single Kayak 1000m at Lagoa Stadium, Murray looked smooth as he finished a powerful second, progressing safely through to the semi-finals.

Nearly half a second in front at the 500 metre mark, Stewart elevated his paddle rate to over 110 strokes a minute. Czech Republic’s, Josef Dostal, the favourite for the heat, accelerated near the finish to cross the line first, less than one second ahead of Stewart. There was no advantage in winning the heat as the first five placegetters advanced to the semi-finals.

Stewart was drawn in lane 6 in his semi-final in a crack field including reigning World Champion, Rene Holten of Denmark in addition to the London 2012 silver medallist in this event, Adam van Koeverden of Canada.

Stewart made a surge after the 500m metres and despite others chasing no one could rein him in as he went on to win in 3:32.60, three and one–half seconds quicker than his heat time.

Stewart looks in ominous form and is the fastest qualifier through to the final. Stewart said he has been striving to produce a stronger finish and today’s semi-final result revealed the benefits. Looking in great shape and a proven big stage performer, Stewart is a genuine podium chance in the final, scheduled for 11:12pm tonight, Tuesday August 16, AEST.

Tuesday, 16 August

Madeline Hills: Athletics

Tuesday, August 16: Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Final, 12:15am AEST | Rank 7 (9:20.38)
Tuesday, August 16: Women’s 5000m R1, starting 10:30pm AEST.

Murray Stewart: Kayak

Tuesday, August 16: Men's Kayak Single 1000m Final, 11:12pm AEST.

Wednesday, 17 August

Michelle (Shelly) Jenneke: Athletics 

Wednesday, August 17: Women’s 100m hurdles, R1 starting 12:05am AEST.

Ella Nelson: Athletics

Wednesday, August 17: Women’s 200m sprint Semi Finals, starting 11:00am AEST.

Katie Ebzery: Basketball, Women

Wednesday, August 17: Australia v Serbia, Quarter Finals, 12:00 midnight AEST.

Days 7-9

The athletics program commenced in the Olympic Stadium and road events are also set to begin.

We have seven representatives in the Australian Olympic Athletics team who will be putting their best feet forward as Rio's Maracana Stadium becomes the Games' centre piece.


It is wonderful to hear stories that our University of Sydney athletes in Rio, whose sport has concluded, are now attending other events as spectators to show their support for the Aussies. For instance, Chloe Dalton and the gold medal winning Women’s Rugby Sevens team, were introduced to the crowd as they cheered on the Aussie Boomers basketball side in their win over China.

Will Ryan

Will Ryan, and his crewmate Matthew Belcher, continued to excel in Races 3 and 4 of the Men’s 470-class sailing on Thursday. Ryan looked likely to steer more medals into the Australian camp by finishing 3rd in both races, which saw Greece and Croatia finish 1st respectively. Ryan, and the hope of more Australian medals, now sit in 2nd place overall, with Croatia currently leading the standings.

Jaime Ryan 

Enthusiasm wasn’t lacking in Jamie Ryan and Carrie Smith’s campaign to secure a medal in the Women’s 470-class sailing.

A tough day at the office, Ryan finished 11th in Race 3, with Great Britain eventually crossing the line first, and 17th in Race 4, which saw kiwi rivals from across the ditch finish in 1st place.

The enthusiasm displayed by Ryan could not be faulted; one can only commend someone so young for their efforts to compete against seasoned veterans of the sport. Ryan and Smith still have plenty of time to improve their standings with 6 more races yet to come. New Zealand currently leads the overall standings, while Australia occupies the 13th position.

Dubbed Super Saturday in Rio, as so many events and finals are being contested, there is a lot to report on the endeavours of our University of Sydney Olympians.

Super Saturday is the second and last day of crossover between the big sports of swimming and athletics, with the last day of finals contested in the pool. Super Saturday also marks the half-way point of the Rio Olympics.

Jenny Blundell

Our University of Sydney representative in the Australian team for the 1500m is Jenny Blundell who ran superbly in her heat with a time of 4:09.05, which qualified her for the semi-finals.

Blundell ran aggressively and positioned herself well to finish eighth out of fourteen starters in Heat 2, recording a time four seconds quicker than Heat 1. Heat 3 was a touch quicker again.

The fast pace of Heat 2 assisted Blundell in her quest to progress in the competition as she endured an anxious wait to see the finishing times in Heat 3 before learning she had made the cut for the semi-finals.

Blundell looks in great form and happily joins her two other Aussie teammates in the semis, Linden Hall and Zoe Buckman, who made it through Heat 1 and Heat 3 respectively.

Madeline Hills

Madeline Hills ran a season-best time to qualify for the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase final, running a classy 5th in Heat 2, at the Olympic Stadium.

The first three in each heat and then the six fastest advanced to the final. Hills' time of 9:24.16 was impressive as she ran with the lead group the whole race. Navigating hurdles and the water jump over seven and one-half laps of the track, the steeplechase is among the toughest of athletic events.

Fellow Aussie, Victoria Mitchell also ran a season best in the same heat but just failed to progress to the final. Australia’s third steeplechase competitor, Genevieve LaCaze, also qualified for the final running 9:26.25 to finish second in Heat 3. LaCaze has stated Hills inspired her to reach further in her athletic aspirations and both women have done just that, as they will also represent Australia in the women’s 5000m event.

The final of the 3000m steeplechase is scheduled for 12:15am, Tuesday August 16, AEST.

Johnno Cotterill

The Aussie Sharks were in the hunt against the cracker Serbian team till well into the fourth-quarter but Serbia pulled away to win 10 goals to 8.

Australia is now in the danger zone in their tough Group A and must defeat Greece in their final match and possibly have other results go their way to progress to the quarter-finals.

Serbia has won all the major water polo men’s championships in the lead-up to Rio, however the Sharks showed, once again, they can match it with the best and at various stages were in front on the scoreboard. The Aussies set out to counter the strength and size of the Serbian players and they never shirked this task the entire game.

Johnno Cotterill saw plenty of action and claimed a double as highest scorer for the Sharks. Cotterill’s last one, as the clock counted down, showcased his awareness to unleash a quick-fire shot in transition before the Serbian defense was fully set.

Will Ryan

The Aussie duo of Will Ryan and Mat Belcher are in great contention at the half-way point of the 10 preliminary races, finishing second in Race 5 and sitting in second place overall in the 470 class.

Race 5 saw good sailing conditions in which Ryan placed 2nd, beating competition rivals Croatia who finished 3rd. Great Britain were the first to sail over the line.

The number two must be in their stars at the moment as importantly they are only two points behind the overall leaders, the Croatians.

Looking in terrific shape, Ryan has five more races to snatch the top spot from the Croats.

Jaime Ryan

Jamie Ryan and Carrie Smith showed promising signs of the potential they possess in Race 5 of the Women’s 470-class sailing.

Ryan finished in 7th place at the end of the heat, which was a significant improvement from her previous performance. Great Britain was the eventual winner, and are ranked 1st overall as the competition reaches the halfway mark.

Ryan’s strong performance, in tandem with Smith, means Australia now sits in 11th position. Hopefully this race was some sort of a breakthrough, which Ryan can use to build on for the remainder of her campaign.

To put their performance ranking in perspective, the winning boat from Great Britain completed the course in 50 minutes 39 seconds, with the Aussies crossing the line 1 minute 31 seconds later.

Isobel Bishop, Hannah Buckling, Keesja Gofers, Lea Yanitsas & Nicola Zagame

In a tremendous confidence booster, the Aussie Stingers have crushed host-nation Brazil 10-3, in their final Group A preliminary round encounter.

The win thrusts the Stingers into a must-win quarter-final against long-standing rivals Hungary.

It was good to see Lee Yanitsas, ace goalkeeper for the Sydney University Lion’s Women’s Water Polo Club, make five crucial saves in playing the whole game. All the Uni representatives were in action, with Keesja Gofers picking up a double and Hannah Buckling chipped in with a goal as well.

The looming quarter-final with the highly fancied Hungarian team provides a big challenge as they boast a swag of good outside shooters and a top-flight centre-forward. However, in the Olympic arena Australia has risen to the occasion, downing the Hungarians to claim the bronze medal at both London 2012 and Beijing 2008. This history should mean the Stingers won’t be overawed and sets up an intriguing quarter-final showdown.

This game is scheduled to start at 3:10am, Tuesday August 16, AEST.

Johnno Cotterill

The Aussie Sharks have concluded their Group A matches with a strong 12-7 victory over highly ranked Greece.

Despite the powerful performance, Australia’s hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals hinge on other results in games to be played later today. The Sharks will be hoping for either Brazil to down Hungary by more than two goals or Japan to beat Serbia. It will be an anxious wait for the team, their coach and many supporters.

Australia played the tough defense for which they are renowned in the clash with Greece and held a commanding 10-4 lead at half-time. Johnno Cotterill, once again in the starting side, racked up an impressive thirty minutes in the water and nailed a treble of goals. Cotterill was equal highest goal scorer for the Sharks with captain, Rhys Howden. Leading Aussie goal-scorer for the tournament, Aaron Younger, also claimed a double as he continued his outstanding form.

Let’s hope the Sharks can make it through as their brand of physical water polo mixed with skill and experience means they could really give the finals a shake.

Katie Ebzery

The Opals have come from behind once again, this time to down Belarus, 74-66. This result means the Australians have finished the preliminary round undefeated, as the top team in Group A.

Needing to overcome a 13-point second-half deficit, the Aussies called on their bench to inject some defensive steel to arrest the Belarus scoring. Belarus was desperate, knowing a loss would end their Olympic dream.

Katie Ebzery was one of the key players called upon from the bench and harassed the opposition at every opportunity in a made–to-order defensive effort. Ebzery chalked up 19 minutes of court time in contributing nine points, as well as two defensive rebounds. Ebzery’s speed and ability to read the play helped disrupt the attacking momentum of Belarus.

Apart from Ebzery, bench players Rachel Jarry and Tessa Lavey, also assisted to turn the game when they entered the fray. Top scorer for Australia was once again the irrepressible, Liz Cambage, with 17 points. Ebzery’s 9 points was equal-third highest for the Opals.

The Opals now face Serbia, who finished fourth in Group B, in a sudden-death quarter-final. Those four matches are set to start from 12:00am Wednesday, August 17, AEST.

Milly Clark

Milly Clark has finished the Women’s Marathon in an amazing 18th place in a time of two hours, thirty minutes and fifty three seconds. To record a top twenty finish in an international field of 141 runners from 80 nations, in only her second serious marathon, is a huge accomplishment. Clark’s run was the fifth best ever by an Australian woman at the Olympics.

Clark was the first to finish of the three Australian competitors, with Jess Trengove a strong 22nd and Lisa Weightman not far behind in 31st place.

In testing, hot conditions the Australian trio ran together for a long period before Clark pressed forward at the 35 kilometre mark as the other two fell back slightly.

Clark revealed she had set her own gold, silver and bronze goals before Rio and a top-twenty finish was her gold level and in every way her performance was golden. In the hot conditions Clark chose to run conservatively early and it paid dividends coming home strongly over the last seven kilometres.

'The winner from Kenya, Jemima Sumgong, finished in a time of two hours, twenty four minutes and four seconds.

Clark had family and her coach in Rio to help cheer her on and after such an impressive Olympic marathon debut Clark can now relax and enjoy the rest of the Olympic experience.

Annie Rubie

Heat 1

In a tremendous first hit-out, Annie Rubie finished third in Heat 1 of the 400 metres with a time of 51.92, to progress to the semi-final stage.

Running a storming backend of her race, Rubie nearly pinched second place. The first two in each of the eight heats, plus the eight fastest overall advanced to the semi-finals. Rubie’s season-best run was close to her personal best of 51.69, which she posted in Beijing 2015.

Rubie will be joined in the semi-finals by the other Australian individual women’s 400m runner, Morgan Mitchell, who posted 51.30 in her heat.


Rubie and Mitchell both showed great speed and strength to charge home in their heats and needed to bring that form and more to their semi-final.

Following a slower than expected 52.68 from Mitchell in the heat just before, Rubie flew out of the blocks in her semi-final 3 to stop the clock at 51.96, finishing up a seriously impressive 6th across the line.

Overall, Rubie's stride landed her in 20th position at her first Games, four places ahead of Mitchell. Allyson Felix of the United States is the one to beat heading into the finals, qualifying fastest with 49.67.

A true champion of Sydney Uni Athletics Club, the 24-year-old's post-race interview was just as composed as her performance on the track, with the highly-anticipated 4x400m Women’s relay still to come.

Take a bow, Annie Rubie!  

Jenny Blundell

In a strong, tactical run, Jenny Blundell laid it on the line in her 1500m semi-final to finish 11th in a time of 4:13.25.

Blundell was not going to be left wondering and was in third position after the first 300 metres and stayed in the top four till one lap to go when a brutal change of pace left her unable to respond.

Only 22 years old, Blundell showed great race maturity in positioning herself up the front of the pack to avoid trouble and to stay on the early pace. The race was won by world record holder, Genzebe Dibaba, in the time of 4:03.06.

In semi-final 1 the two other Australians, Linden Hall and Zoe Buckman, finished eighth and ninth respectively. Hall missed the qualifying for the final by one place as only the first five in each semi-final and the next two fastest progressed to the final.

It was a magnificent effort from Jenny Blundell making the 1500m semi-final in her maiden Olympics and the confident way she ran her races strongly suggests there is a lot more to come down the track. Huge congratulations Jenny!

Georgina Morgan

In a vital game for the Hockeyroos, Australia defeated Japan in a 2-0 thriller.

An intercept from Emily Smith (#26), following a pinpoint cross-field strike, saw Mariah Williams (#24) open the scorecard in the 13th minute of the 2nd quarter.

Sydney Uni’s Georgina Morgan (#17) looked certain to score at the beginning of the 4th quarter with a blistering shot from the top of the striking circle, which was only barely saved through desperate defense from the Japanese goalie. Morgan was a handful for the swarming Japanese defense throughout the entire match, and looked threatening with every touch.

Japan did well to keep Australia at bay for most of the match, however any hope of a comeback from the Japanese was put to bed after Smith scored in the later stages of the 4th quarter. Sustained pressure from the Hockeyroos saw Georgie Parker (#19) hit a backhanded screamer towards the goal that only needed a slight nudge in the right direction from Smith to seal a 2-0 victory.

The win against the Japanese takes Australia through to the quarterfinals, where they will face New Zealand in a do-or-die match.  Both teams are very familiar with each other’s playing style. Australia finished 3rd in the overall standings of Pool B and can't afford to leave anything in the tank when the they play the Kiwis who finished 2nd in the overall rankings of Pool A.

Sally Kehoe

In the B Final of the Women’s Double Sculls, Sally Kehoe and partner, Genevieve Horton, have finished third in a time of 7:42.30, just behind winners Germany and Belarus in second place.

Kehoe is now a triple Olympian after representing Australia in the women’s eights at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Horton as the youngest member of our Australian rowing team in Rio was making her Olympic debut.

While not the A Final they had hoped, securing third in the B Final means the Aussie pair end their Rio campaign with a very creditable, ninth ranked boat which is a great result for the new combination. The blustery headwinds in the race were a real challenge especially for smaller boats like the double sculls.

Still only 29 years of age, the resilient and determined Kehoe just keeps on improving so let’s hope she wishes to keep paddling as she is a great inspiration to all the female rowers in our Sydney University Boat Club.

Sydney at the Rio Games - schedule, news updates.