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Sport

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Twelve days, five of the top universities in China: this is the Go8’s Student Leadership in International Cooperation Project 2013.

In Shanghai, we had a one-day visit to Fudan University. We spent the morning getting to know a group of students while touring the main campus to experience, for a brief period of time, student life at Fudan. Our afternoon itinerary consisted of a volleyball game with students – what we didn't know was that we'd be playing the Fudan men’s volleyball team, the number one men’s university team in China. They were very kind to us though – a group of PhD candidates, most of who had not played volleyball since high school!

Read more about Erin's trip.

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WOW. I’m now in the Olympic Village, a city within a city, housing 15,000 athletes of all shapes and sizes from all over the world. I arrived on the 17 July, straight from the USA where I won 3 Gold medals in the Junior World Championships. After humid 35 degree days, I must admit that the cooler drizzle in London was a nice change. Having said that, the cold lasted a little too long for my liking!

The first day in the village I felt like a little kid exploring Disneyland; walking through the streets looking up at all the different flags, pointing out different people, taking photos of everything! The Australian apartments were hard to miss, decked out with flags and green and gold banners spelling out 'Australia'. Being a team of over 700 people, including officials, we need quite a bit of space!

Our apartment is fantastic. We're on the 8th floor and have a beautiful view of the Olympic stadium and greenery around the village. Latvia and Sweden are opposite us and from my room I can also see the Russian base.

After settling in we headed to the uniform distribution centre, where I received two suitcases full of clothes! There is a lot of gear - all of it green or yellow or white. We also got fitted out for our Opening ceremony uniform which was exciting.

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Whilst this time of year usually offers me a sense of reprieve – getting uni results back and enjoying the winter holidays – this time it’s coupled with an important milestone; ‘50 days to go’ until the London 2012 Paralympic Games!

Earlier this year I was selected on the Australian Women’s Goalball team to represent Australia at the Paralympic Games in London. I’m also in my 4th year at Sydney Uni, studying a combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degree. So I’ve decided to defer second semester to focus on my training, but in doing so I’ve had to make up subjects by overloading and going through summer school.

So what is Goalball? It’s a sport exclusively for the Vision Impaired and Blind, in which players defend the ball by listening to the bells inside it. Whilst I have the maximum amount of vision allowed for classification as a Paralympic athlete, all players in Goalball are blindfolded to ensure equity. This video probably explains it better than I ever could.

Well so much for that relaxing winter holiday! Training has intensified before we leave for a staging camp in Wales, then we head into the Village in London. At the moment I’m trying to refine my technique and strategies on court, as well as undergoing an extensive cardio and weights program to maximise my strength, speed and power on the court. When the going gets tough, I know that in less than 6 weeks I am going to be headed to the most amazing experience of my life – and hopefully come away with some wins.

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I’m writing this blog post from London, where I'm training for the next three weeks. I’m a first-year student at Sydney and I’m also an elite athlete in canoe/kayak slalom. And I've just been selected to compete at the 2012 Olympics.

Here's a quick video of my training. For those of you who don’t know what canoe slalom is (most people don't!), it might give you a better idea.

So my trip didn’t start all that smoothly. I’m only at uni two days a week, and the past few weeks before uni break were really busy, so I can’t say I was 100% focussed on uni. This became obvious when, on the last day before uni break, I actually realised the break was that week and not the next! Living under a rock, I thought I had plenty of time to let my tutors know and email some letters about my absence. But no. I had a huge panic, but thankfully all my tutors and coordinators were really helpful and we were able to find solutions for my missing a few weeks of uni and some assessments.

I definitely have my head screwed on for the next few weeks – it’s time to get down to business and stay on top of uni by correspondence (this could be tricky...), train twice a day, gym and recovery and maybe, just maybe, if I get time, I’ll get some sightseeing into the program as well!

Training here is so exciting, especially with the "100 days to go" celebrations yesterday. The whitewater is big and bouncy - really powerful and I know I’ll need to build up my strength before the Olympics roll around. I’ll be based here for three weeks in Lee Valley - Waltham Cross about 30 mins from central London.

London has put on the best of UK weather - a lot of rain, wind, cloud, bit of hail and sometimes you might even spot the sun. Here’s hoping it clears up as it is absolutely freezing on the water! On the plus side, the cold and rain means more time indoors, and more uni work completed... in theory.

For more news on my adventure to the Olympics
check out my blog or Facebook page.

Forgetting to wear gloves on the daily bike ride to uni is quickly becoming a huge mistake!

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Another aspect of leaving school everyone seems to forget to mention - sport. It's harder, faster and the opposition is a-hell-of alot bigger! Not to mention that it's now four days later and I'm still really sore.

Then there are those guys who are just simply crazy and seem to have endless energy and never get drilled or tire.

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Sport is a huge part of Sydney Uni, so come Grads and undergrads and fellows, Gaudy profs in reds and yellows, Sing with lungs as tough as bellows To our 'Varsity. (That’s the first bit of the rugby club song…)

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Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....
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