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Eyes on the prize

Deakin’s Elite Athlete Program provides study support for Tom Hunt as he prepares for Olympic Games selection.

With his sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Deakin student Tom Hunt is juggling a full-time study load with the demands of a rigorous sport training regime.

The 24 year-old rower, who is studying a combined Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws degree, has been a keen rowing competitor since taking up the sport as a school student in 2011 

Since then, Tom has gone on to represent Australia in the under-23 Australian Men’s Eight in Rotterdam in 2016, competed in the Interstate Senior Men’s Eight at the 2017-2018 Kings Cup and is about to head to Shanghai to compete in the Men’s Pair at the 2018  World University Championships.

A former Ballarat Grammar student, Tom chose to study at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus because of both the location and course offerings.

‘I wanted to study a combined commerce/laws degree course and I also wanted to play in the Geelong Football League (and try to step up into the Victorian Football League) Deakin Geelong was my obvious choice as the place to study, gain a high-quality education and pursue my sporting interests,’ he says.

He also holds a scholarship with the Victorian Institute of Sport and earlier this year participated in an eight-week leadership program.

‘This was an eight-week program – in conjunction with the Victoria Police – that provided the group with leadership skills and insight from  people (from all walks of life) to help us prepare for life after sport,’ he explains.

Tom says that when he first started rowing at school, he had no intention of taking it to a club or competitive level.

‘But somehow I became more involved and have never stopped.  While I am a very competitive person, I also love competing in a team and rowing is the ultimate team sport with high levels of precision needed to compete at the top level,’ he says.

He thinks one of the main reasons he’s kept with rowing as a sport is his age.

‘I can compete at a high level in rowing at a young age. I can study and work at an old age but I can’t compete at this level when I’m older.’ 

Tom’s current training regime incorporates three training sessions every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and two session every Thursday and Saturday with Sunday as a rest day.

To help him manage an intense training and competition schedule with his studies, Deakin provides Tom with a special elite-athlete support program.

As a member of the Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) program, Deakin University believes that succeeding as an athlete doesn't mean sacrificing academic success.

‘The Elite Athlete Program supports state and national-level athletes, who like me are studying at university, with monetary support and the flexibility to adjust the academic workload during peak performance periods through extensions and special considerations,’ he says.

This flexibility enables Tom to continue focusing on both his sporting and career goals. 

‘Other than trying to make the 2020 Olympic Games, I have a keen passion for taxation law as a potential career path. My plan is to try and get a graduate role at the Australian Tax Office when I have finished rowing.’

Tom’s upcoming rowing events include the World University Championships (7-13 August – Men’s Pair), University Games (November) National Time Trial (December) and local regattas that will include the Victorian and NSW State Championships in preparation for the national selection trials and the National Championships in March 2019.

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