Students recognised & celebrated at the 2023 VU Sport Awards

Back L-R: Zachary Polglaze, Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker, Saffron Canny-Smith, Keira Whiley, Liam Cashin, Nicholas Antonino, Eden Mitchell, Doug Mitchell, Jonathan-Lim-I. Front L-R: Lee Bevan-Woodley, Matias Gonzalez, Elle Steel PLY, Sarah Upton, Marcus Flores.
VU Sport showcased in 20th year of awards.
Thursday 30 November 2023

Victoria University (VU) student athletes from grassroots all the way to elite international level have been celebrated at the 2023 VU Sport Awards.

VU has a long and proud tradition of sporting excellence with some of our students having represented Australia at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, World University Games and Championships.

There are individual and team/club categories with six Blues and six Half Blues being awarded to students from the University’s Elite Athlete Program. Blue Awards are an internationally recognised symbol of excellence earned by athletes for competition at the highest level.

Awards were also presented to students for outstanding sporting performances representing VU at UniSport Nationals and Championship events.

VU Head of Sport James Nightingale congratulated all who were nominated, and also all who participated in VU sport this year.

“VU has one of Australia’s strongest tertiary education ecosystems for health, sport and active living,” Mr Nightingale said.

It gives us a great sense of pride to have so many students representing their country, as well as seeing the outstanding performances of students and teams representing VU in regional and national competitions and championships.

From grassroots community sport, through to aspiring and emerging athletes and those producing podium performances on the international stage, we see your exceptional achievements. Sport has been a key strength of VU from the earliest days. Those awarded tonight are an important part of the continuation of that proud tradition.

Congratulations to our 2023 VU Sport Awards winners

University Council member Mark Toohey presented the peak award categories, including Female Athlete of the Year which went to Olympian and Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Aoife Coughlan (Judo). Ranked 9th in the world with a string of podium finishes at Grand Slam and Grand Prix events, Aoife has had a standout year.

VU’s Rising Star and Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to Leon Sejranovic (Taekwondo). As Taekwondo Australia Athlete of the Year, he won an historic bronze medal in a breakthrough performance at the World Taekwondo Championships in Azerbaijan. Leon was a recipient of the 2024 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program and is focusing on a bid for the Olympics.

Masters of Teaching student Liam Cashin was awarded the prestigious Jacinta Carroll Academic and Sporting Excellence Award.

Liam is a 2022 Oceania Champion and was a finalist at the 2023 World University Games in Chengdu in the 3,000m steeplechase. He has successfully completed VU’s double degree in Sport Science, maintaining an impressive GPA of 6.8 in his Master of Teaching, whilst competing at elite level.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker introduced the last two awards of the night, presenting the Representative Team of the Year Award to the VU Men’s Football Team – they are ranked number two in Australia and picked up silver in Division 1 at the UniSport Nationals.

The VU Vultures Netball Club received the Sport Club of the Year award. As well as winning a number of junior premierships, with over 150 players competing across four associations, the club has seen unprecedented growth including its highest number of open-age teams providing increased opportunities for students.

The night concluded with VU alumna and Paralympian swimmer Elle Steele being inducted into VU’s esteemed Sport Hall of Fame. Elle is a 5 times Australian swimming representative, including the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. At age 16, she qualified for the Paralympics after recording the 5th fastest time in the world for 400m freestyle.

Recently, Elle’s professional career has seen her employed by VU to lead a national project in collaboration with Disability Sport Australia.

It was fitting and special that in the 20th Year of the Sport Awards our Hall of Fame Inductee has come full circle. Elle was recognised as a Full Blue and announced as VU’s inaugural Female Athlete of the Year in 2002 at the very first Awards night and ceremony 20 years ago.

Read more about the VU Sports awards and the 2023 award winners.