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Striving for success with the Elite Athlete Program

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When you start to feel overwhelmed, what motivates you to keep going? For sports science student and table tennis athlete Jacqueline, all it takes is simply telling herself that anything is possible.

Jacqueline picked up her first racquet when she was just five years old. Then, she was barely tall enough to see over the table. Now, she’s been competing professionally for years, having recently brought home a few medals from her latest national championship.

Growing up with a dad who was once a high-level table tennis player, Jacqueline always knew she was interested in the sport. At first, she played for fun, like many of the other sports she tried when she was younger.

Eventually, her dad suggested she pick one sport to train hard at, one sport that she could hopefully become successful in. Jacqueline chose table tennis.

“People have the mindset that table tennis isn’t a big deal, that it’s not as competitive. But they haven’t seen the competitive side of it. It’s such a passionate sport!”

Since the age of 10, her dad has been her coach, helping her train up for each new curveball that comes her way. Though at first this made it difficult, as Jacqueline often got lectured by her dad before her games, ultimately she is grateful for her dad’s encouragement and support.

“Because of Dad’s training, I’ve got into the habit of making a choice for myself to not use my phone [before a game]. I stretch, sometimes listen to music just to relax me while I’m stretching. It helps clear my mind.”

Over time, Jacqueline began to compete professionally, with her team winning a gold medal in the Junior Nationals in Tasmania when she was just 14. More recently, at the 2022 West Coast National Championships in Queensland, her team brought home a silver medal, while Jacqueline herself won a gold and a bronze medal for a doubles event.

With her table tennis career taking off, Jacqueline decided to find a uni course that would complement her growing love for sport. And so, she decided to enrol in Exercise and Sports Science.

When deciding on which uni to attend, Jacqueline focused on what courses they offered, rather than which would best accommodate her table tennis career. Once she’d applied for Curtin, only then did she start searching for opportunities for athletes like her.

And that’s how Jacqueline found the Elite Athlete Program, which supports students who are juggling a sporting career as well as their studies. As she already knew she was going to Curtin, Jacqueline applied to the Elite Athlete Program, figuring that she may as well give it a shot. 

To her surprise and delight, she got in.

For Jacqueline, the most beneficial aspect of the Elite Athlete Program has been the community itself. Surrounded by athletes who share similar interests and struggles, Jacqueline has found a strong sense of belonging, and hopes to meet more of her Elite Athlete peers.

Between training commitments and settling into the uni lifestyle, Jacqueline struggled with time management in her first few semesters. Reflecting on her experiences, Jacqueline’s advice to new students is wise – “Don’t cope with the struggle by yourself. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Looking ahead, Jacqueline already has a game plan for her future. Ideally, she hopes to play at the Oceania Championships, as well as complete postgraduate studies that will hopefully put her on the path to becoming an exercise sports scientist in her chosen field – table tennis.

Chasing success in your own sporting field? Then apply to become part of Curtin’s Elite Athlete Program today!

Written by creative writing and professional writing and publishing student, Abbey Carson.

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