VU celebrates top sports stars

Victoria University has named world-class water-polo player Jarrod Gilchrist and wheelchair tennis champion Daniela di Toro as its male and female athletes of the year at the 2009 Sports Awards held on 19 November.

The VU Sports Awards recognise the outstanding sporting achievements of VU students in regional, national and international championships.

Jarrod, 19, a Hurstbridge resident, was part of the gold-medal-winning Australian National League all-star team at this year's World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. The team made history as the first non-European team to win top spot at men's water polo at the Games, bringing home Australia's first University Games gold medal in the sport.

Jarrod is in his second year of a Bachelor of Applied Science, with a speciality in Physical Education. He has been involved in water polo at an elite level for several years. He was selected for the Australian school boys' team in 2006, and named that league's most outstanding player in 2008. During his short time at VU, he has worked toward establishing a VU water polo team to compete at the annual Australian University Games.

VU's Female Sports Person of the Year, Dani di Toro, 34, is in her final year of a Bachelor of Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbs). The Thornbury resident is a four-time Australian Paralympian and 10-time Australian Wheelchair Open champion. Dani claimed the world number one ranking in 1998 and 1999, in addition to winning more than 300 other professional titles. She is now ranked sixth in the world in women's wheelchair tennis.

Dani's remarkable sports career started soon after she registered for her first wheelchair tennis competition at age 14 - less than a year after a brick wall collapsed on her at a suburban swimming pool and left her a paraplegic.

VU also awarded several "full blue" and "half blue" awards in recognition of exceptional sporting service by VU individuals and teams.

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