Sprenger and fellow athletes going for gold
While you're hoeing into the ham or chomping on chocolate this Christmas Queensland University of Technology (QUT) elite athletes like swimmer Christian Sprenger are likely to be giving their Christmas fare the flick.
Mind you, the chance to march in the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London, behind the Australian flag next year is a pretty big incentive to control their calories.
QUT, which runs the largest university Elite Athletes Program in the country, has potentially more than 30 students up for Olympic selection early next year across a range of sports including swimming and synchronised swimming, diving, hockey and water polo.
The support is something QUT student of industrial design and world breaststroke silver medallist Christian Sprenger appreciates as he begins preparations for the critical phase of his Olympic swimming trials.
"With swimming selections scheduled for March next year I'm in full training mode over the uni break," he said.
"I'll train 25 hours a week and that involves swimming some 45 kilometres as well as doing gym work and physio.
"While it's crucial that I focus on swimming now, I value my education too and when the academic year rolls around next year I'll certainly be appreciative of the academic flexibility and support that QUT offers."
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Elite Athlete Program Coordinator Alison Thomson said the Olympic Games would undoubtedly be significant events in the lives of the university's elite athletes and QUT would offer all the support it could.
"This support includes providing students with extra time off to attend training sessions and trials and encouraging them to cut their studies to one unit per semester," Ms Thomson said.
"Our athletes are so driven and hungry for selection that every minute of their day is filled.
"We tell them their sport is number one but that QUT will support them through their degrees so at the end of their sports careers they have a good education and another career to pursue.
"With students spending up to 28 hours a week on their sport, their Olympic games preparation is almost a full-time job so QUT provides a good deal of flexibility in relation to their academic programs.
"Selection for the Olympics is their goal; it's what they've dreamt of since they were little kids and with the Olympics coming around only every four years, the window of opportunity for selection is narrow.
"We encourage them to grab hold of that opportunity and run with it."
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The $16 billion Olympics, held from July 27 to August 12 2012, will see 10,500 athletes compete in 300 events across 26 sports.
QUT's Elite Athletes Program includes more than 320 athletes representing more than 50 different sports and incorporates general financial assistance as well as Vice Chancellor's scholarships worth $25,000.
Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2999 or email@example.com