Off the back of three consecutive victories at the Southern University Games, RMIT’s sporting stars are now competing on the world stage.
Six RMIT students, along with 250 students from other universities, are representing Australia at the 2017 Summer Universiade – also known as the World University Games – in Taipei, Taiwan. It’s the largest Australian contingent since we first competed in 1967.
The students have joined more than 10,000 athletes from around the globe in Taipei, Taiwan, to compete in the largest multi-sport event in the world, apart from the Olympic Games.
When she’s not diving into a pool, Laura Hingston studies the Bachelor of Communication (Journalism).
While she was training for the Games, RMIT News asked her about how she came to be wearing the green and gold.
What do you love about diving?
Believe it or not, I was scared of heights before I started diving and now I specialise in the 10-metre platform event.
I love the thrill and challenge diving presents every session, it’s pretty scary at times but on the other hand really rewarding when you nail a dive or even learn a new dive.
Before I started diving, I was an Australian gymnast. A few years ago, I injured my back and was forced out of gymnastics, which was devastating.
Luckily I decided to give diving a go and I’ve never looked back.
The transition was quick and within 11-months of stepping on the platform for the first time, I had a competitive Olympic dive list.
It has always been the same dream but now it’s just a different pathway.
Now I am continuing to work on my execution and consistency of the dives and hopefully soon increase my difficulty.
There are so many aspects of diving that I love, but getting to travel overseas to represent my country is a highlight for me.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
Injuries have been a big obstacle in my career so far.
Last year, I hurt my shoulder and had to spend the majority of the year out of the water recovering and strengthening the surrounding muscles to prevent further damage.
It was tough but unfortunately, injuries are just part of the game.
When you dive from 10-metres, you need a strong upper body to withstand the impact of hitting the water at 60 kilometres an hour.
Returning from injury is never easy either and it takes a lot of work just trying to reach the level you were at before the injury.
With time, I am learning how to read my body and physical ability a lot better. Because I am a very driven athlete, I used to push my body past my limits in order to reach my goals quickly.
Another challenge was transferring into diving when I was 18. Divers usually start from a very young age – so I had a lot of catching up to do.
But I am very grateful I did and having had an elite gymnastics career previously has been really beneficial with the transfer, physically and mentally.
How do you juggle your university commitments with sporting commitments?
My organisational skills have been key to me balancing my 28-hour weekly training commitments with my journalism studies.
Being a recognised elite athlete at RMIT, I am very lucky to have a lot of support from the University.
Sally Tanner, Senior Coordinator, RMIT Sport from RMIT Link, is my point of contact and I have developed a good relationship with her.
She helps on so many levels, whether that is timetabling arrangements, assignment extensions, organising alternate exam times/location if I am overseas or interstate, and everything in between.
RMIT’s support has helped to offload the stress of study around important competition times and planning my semester appropriately.
For a couple of years, I relocated to Brisbane to train at the Australian Institute of Sport with National Head Coach Hui Tong. During that time, I chose to study cross-institutionally – I was not prepared to give up my spot at RMIT.
Sally and the Journalism program staff were really helpful in making sure credits would be recognised towards my degree, as that can be a really long and tricky process.
This year, I’m giving back to RMIT and volunteering at Open Day as an athlete representative. I’m looking forward to possibly meeting the next generation of elite athletes.
What are you looking forward to about competing in Taipei?
Being part of the Uniroos team in Taipei means so much to me because it’s my pay-off for all the hard work I did training and getting back into form after my injury.
Making the team was one of the goals I set for myself at the start of this year and I’m thrilled to have achieved it.
As an athlete, I live and train for the days I get to wear the green and gold and represent my country.
Competing in my first Summer Universiade will be valuable experience, especially leading into Commonwealth Games trials at the end of the year.
I’m also looking forward to cheering on my fellow Aussie teammates after my event is done.
Why are you studying journalism?
I have always found the media industry interesting. It’s fast paced and competitive, no two days are likely to be the same and these elements really excite me.
Early on in my schooling, I put a lot of my focus into studying maths and science – so it always makes me laugh how I ended up in journalism.
But eventually my interest in the media overtook my interest in STEM.
Particularly it was due to inspiration from journalist Melissa Doyle, after growing up watching her on Channel 7’s Sunrise.
I admired the ease at which she met the unparalleled diversity of skills and challenges the role offered, from interviewing politicians to dealing with breaking news live on air.
How do you see your journalism skills folding into your sporting career?
My athletic nature means I’m really interested in sporting stories and feel sports journalism will be part of my future career path.
During my journalism course, I’ve completed internships with television networks and loved every minute.
As my diving career is starting to grow, it’s been a really good experience studying journalism and more recently gaining experience being the interviewee, rather than the reporter, for a change.
Down the track, I would also really love to give talks and inspire young kids.
What’s your advice to others who wish to follow in your footsteps?
Being an athlete takes hard work and requires you to be very organised and proactive.
This is partly due to having interests or a career outside of sport – something I believe is really important for athletes.
Start thinking of life after sport, even if it’s not for the near future.
Although sport is my priority right now, I recognise the importance of the dual career path and trying to acquire that smooth transition into life after sport.
No journey worth achieving is easy, you need to be resilient and never lose sight of your goals.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who can support your goals and needs will help you achieve success and be there for you when the journey gets rocky.
I am super grateful for all my family and friends. I couldn’t have made it this far without them.
Bottom line is work hard and follow your dreams.
Where do you see yourself and what will you be doing in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, I imagine I will still be diving and hope to be working at a television network or within the media industry, reporting or maybe even commentating at major events.
With diving I really thrive off planning and having goals.
But with my journalism career, at this stage I am working towards completing my degree and taking opportunities as they arise, given that they can fit around my busy training commitments.
I like to go with the flow and see where life and life’s opportunities take me. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have even imagined I’d be where I am today – especially diving!
Where possible, I try and say yes to every opportunity that arises because the unknown and spontaneity really excites me.
The other RMIT students representing Australia in the World University Games are:
- Victoria Mentor, fencing, Bachelor of Science
- Zoe Hille, water polo, Bachelor of Applied Science (Surveying) (Honours)
- Stephen Knuckey, athletics 800m, Bachelor of Applied Science (Property and Valuation) (Honours)
- Christopher Mitrevski, track and field, Bachelor of Business (Marketing)
- Caity Haniver, weightlifting, Bachelor of Health Science/Applied Science (Osteopathy)
Sally Tanner from RMIT Link says: “I’m so proud of all our elite athletes who are flying the flag for Australia.
“Sport and fitness is so important and I hope our representatives inspire more students to get involved with all the great sporting clubs RMIT has to offer.”
RMIT offers support to elite athletes, so they can successfully balance their studies with their sporting commitments.
Story: Aeden Ratcliffe