A first-year paramedic student at Charles Sturt University (CSU) has put her books aside temporarily as her training intensifies for the K4 500 metre kayaking event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
This is the first Olympic Games for Ms Jo Brigden-Jones who is studying for a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Practice (Paramedic) by distance education with the CSU School of Biomedical Sciences in Bathurst.
“I started kayaking in 2001, and have been competing since then, but have been racing at a senior international level since 2008,” Ms Brigden-Jones said. “I missed out on the Beijing Olympics by one place, but this year my crew and I won both the National Championships and Oceania Championships to qualify for the Australian Olympic team.”
Ms Brigden-Jones says she is honoured to be representing Australia at the Olympic Games as it has been a dream of hers for many years.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle for my sport and I am excited about the opportunity to perform at my best in front of the entire world. Many years of hard work, highs and lows, sweat and tears, has lead me to this point and I am embracing every moment of this experience. I love the challenge of achieving goals, pushing myself and trying to be the best I can be. It’s also great that I get to travel the world and make lifelong friends.
“My crew mates Rachel Lovell, Hannah Davis, Lyndsie Fogarty, and I train six days a week for between three to five hours a day. This includes two paddling sessions a day and a combination of gym, running or cycling. Lots of other things take up time too, like physiotherapy, massage, recovery, stretching and meetings.”
Ms Brigden-Jones comes from Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches, but spent the majority of the past year training at the Australian Institute of Sport’s kayak program based on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
“I also spend about five months of the year overseas or at other interstate locations for training camps and competitions, so studying by distance education with Charles Sturt University makes it possible to study and complete my assignments anywhere in the world, or here in Italy where I am presently training until the day before the London Olympics opening ceremony,” she said.
“Charles Sturt University had the course I wanted to do to progress my career, and it’s great that the University is very flexible with my study load, or when I need more time to complete work if I have been away competing or at a training camp. I balance my sport and study by planning ahead and making sure I have a few hours set aside each week to complete my uni work. The support provided to me so far has been excellent, and makes me confident that I will be able to complete my course and achieve my academic goals while paddling at an elite level.
“Studying at Charles Sturt University is a great option if you want to be able to continue your sporting career while also developing your knowledge and skills outside your sporting life.”