Victoria University has named track cyclist Azizul Awang and basketballer Lauren Scherf as its top male and female student-athletes of 2017 at a gala awards evening yesterday.
Male Athlete of the Year – Azizul Awang
Azizul Awang, nicknamed ‘The Pocket Rocketman' due to his 1.68-metre height, is a seasoned track cycling title-holder. The 29-year-old made history as the first Malaysian world-champion athlete in an Olympic sport after winning top prize at the 2017 ICU world track cycling championships. Last year, he won bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil in the individual keirin event (where cyclists sprint for victory after following a pacer motorcycle) to add to the four world championship medals he earned since debuting in 2008. He was named Malaysia’s Sportsman of the Year for 2009 and 2010, and Malaysian of the Year for 2011.
After taking up cycling in Malaysia aged 16, Azizul moved to Melbourne and is now undertaking a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Human Movement at VU. He is an exemplary elite student-athlete, leader, and role model locally and internationally, inspiring all VU students and staff. In 2015, he was awarded a VU 'Full Blue', the highest possible award for university athletes.
Female Athlete of the Year – Lauren Scherf
Basketball star Lauren Scherf, 22, was named the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) rookie of the year soon after launching her professional career with the Dandenong Rangers in 2013. She has been a strong member of the Opals Junior program at the world championships.
Lauren is a Bachelor of Sport Science (Physical Education-Secondary) student. She was previously recognised by Victoria University with a Full Blue at the 2015 VU Sport Awards. Lauren made exceptional contributions to the Australian women’s gold-medal winning basketball team at this year’s World University Games in Taipei - she was the only player from a Victorian-based university on the ‘Uniroos’ team, which included six players contracted to U.S colleges.
Sport Hall of Fame Inductee – Mel Jones
At the same event, VU alumna, former professional cricketer, and now sports commentator, Mel Jones, was inducted into the Victoria University Sport Hall of Fame. Mel’s international sporting career spanned two decades, and included five test matches for Australia and 61 One-Day Internationals. Across her career, she successfully juggled professional sport with working in cricket development in Australia, South Africa and England. Mel graduated from VU as a teacher with a Bachelor of Applied Science, and a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education.