La Trobe Elite Athlete Program members receive prestigious scholarships

Three La Trobe Elite Athlete Program (LEAP) athletes who are in the frame for next year’s Olympic Games have recently been awarded valuable sporting scholarships.

Kelsey Griffin (Basketball, Master of Teaching) and Caitlin Parker (Boxing, Diploma of Sport Coaching and Development at Carlton College of Sport) have been named as part of the 2020 AIS Education Scholarship program, while Brendon Smith (Swimming, Bachelor of Business – Accounting and Finance) was awarded a Tier Three Scholarship within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship & Mentoring Program.

For Griffin and Parker, their inclusion in the 40-strong list of Australian athletes will assist them in their pursuit of study and education experiences. The AIS 2020 Education Scholarship is an initiative designed to ease the financial burden on athletes who are undergoing education to prepare for life beyond sport.

While both athletes have one eye on life post their sporting careers, their focus firmly remains on securing a ticket to Tokyo for next year’s Olympic Games. For 33-year-old Griffin, securing selection in the Australian Opals team for Tokyo would be a crowning moment in a stunning career that has garnered four WNBL championships with the Bendigo Spirit and UC Capitals and three WNBL Grand Final MVP awards.

Parker on the other hand had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics before the event’s postponement due to COVID-19. The 24-year-old secured a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Women’s Middleweight class and will be looking to go a step further in Tokyo in 2021.

Speaking to the Carlton College of Sport last month, Parker said she had used the forced COVID-19 lay off to think about her life after boxing.

Caitlin Parker - The Olympic Dream from Archivist Media on Vimeo.

“When I found out the Olympics had been postponed, I was wanting additional purpose in my life after boxing," Parker said.

"I had always thought that boxing needed to be my full focus for the past seven years, but I got home and realised I needed to do something.

“My motivation was really to do the course I am doing, which is the Diploma of Sport Coaching and Development through Carlton College and La Trobe University. My goal is to improve my knowledge in a field that I am so passionate about and involved in. I think it will help build my boxing career as well – they go hand in hand.”

Tokyo 2021 is also the aspiration for Smith, one of Australian swimming’s brightest prospects. He was awarded with the Tier Three Scholarship along with 32 other outstanding young athletes from across Australia, who will all receive scholarships as part of this year’s Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship and mentoring program.

Speaking to upstart magazine earlier this year, Smith said he was pre-selected in the Australian Dolphins Swim Team for Tokyo 2020, but has been made to wait another year for the opportunity to make his Olympic dream a reality.

“That (the Olympic team) is not finalised; how we qualify is we have a meet five weeks out, and you have to go under the FINA (The International Swimming Federation) qualifying time and get top two in that race,” the 20-year-old said.

“It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you don’t perform on that day you don’t make it. We won’t know until then.”

Here’s hoping all three LEAP athletes make it to the world’s premier sporting event and bring a taste of La Trobe to the international sporting stage.

Applications for the 2021 Elite Athlete Adjustment Factor are NOW OPEN until 30th November, 2020. If you are an elite athlete considering studying at La Trobe University in 2021, please complete Elite Athlete Adjustment Factor Application or contact eliteathletes@latrobe.edu.au for more information.

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