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Inaugural Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship recipients unveiled

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A scholarship named in honour of a legend of Australian sport who was passionate about the Commonwealth Games and education provides financial support to two young Indigenous student athletes who are studying at Griffith University.

Swimmer Bianca Crisp and netballer Beryl Friday have been announced as the inaugural recipients of the Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship.

The scholarship is funded by Commonwealth Games Australia, in partnership with Griffith University, and is a legacy of the partnership between the two organisations at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

For Bianca Crisp, a proud Wiradjuri woman, being awarded the scholarship is “life changing”.

The open water swimmer is approaching the end of her Bachelor of Health Science degree with a focus on being selected for the Australian Olympic Swim Team to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in the 10km open water swim and to complete a Doctor of Medicine and become a specialised medical practitioner with a focus on addressing the health disparities impacting First Peoples.

Bianca aspires to work as a physician within remote Aboriginal communities. She has an impressive GPA (6.85 out of 7), whilst juggling her training and competition commitments. She is a member of Griffith Honours College and was awarded the Award for Academic Excellence in 2018 and 2019. Bianca is also a school tutor and Mentor at AIME.

“Thank you so much I can’t really believe it, that is so amazing!” Crisp said on being told the news of her scholarship.

“This scholarship will be a huge help for me… with my swimming and my studies, I don’t really have time to support myself so a scholarship like this is life-changing for me.

“I’ll now be able to really dive into my swimming both literally and figuratively.

“I am so honoured you have chosen me to be a recipient of this Ron Clarke Scholarship and this partnership between Commonwealth Games Australia and Griffith University, I think it is a great opportunity.

“As a young Indigenous student athlete, I hope I can inspire other students and athletes and other young Indigenous people through my sport and my studies, so I think scholarships and opportunities like this are so amazing!”

 

Commonwealth Games Australia Community Engagement Manager and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Natalie Medhurst and Griffith University Sport College Director and Olympic gold medallist Duncan Free OAM announce swimmer Bianca Crisp as an inaugural recipient of the Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship.

 

Beryl Friday, a proud Kuku Nyungkul woman and netballer, who is completing a Bachelor of Education at Griffith University, is excited to continue her passion for empowering Indigenous girls across South Queensland and inspiring them to achieve their full potential through sport knowing she has the financial support to continue the work.

Beryl has previously played National League netball with the Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever and is currently a State Underage assistant coach. She currently works with the Brisbane Broncos as an ambassador for their Beyond the Broncos academy – a program that empowers Indigenous girls across South Queensland. Beryl is also involved with the Uluru Statement from the Heart, has been a consultant with Netball Queensland’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and has also worked with NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.

“Thank you to Commonwealth Games Australia and Griffith University so much for this scholarship, this means so much to me and my family,” Friday said on being told the news of her scholarship.

“[The scholarship] means a lot of stress has been taken off my shoulders.

“It is obviously a great financial aid, but for me it gives me the knowledge that I can really focus on my studies and keep doing the work that I am doing in my community and keep trying to make a difference for the next Aboriginal girl coming through in sport.

“Whether it be in netball, or in rugby league or in AFL, then really being able to be a role model for them.”

 

Commonwealth Games Australia Community Engagement Manager and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Natalie Medhurst and Griffith University Sport College Director and Olympic gold medallist Duncan Free OAM announce netballer Beryl Friday as an inaugural recipient of the Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship.

 

The scholarship named in honour for one of Australia’s greatest middle distance runners, Ron Clarke AO MBE, is a partnership between Commonwealth Games Australia and Griffith University designed to provide financial support of up to $22,000 per recipient for two young Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander student athletes who study at Griffith University.

Griffith Sports College Director Duncan Free OAM praised the scholarship recipients for their commitment to their sport, their studies and for their passion for giving back to their communities.

“To have this Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship through a partnership with Commonwealth Games Australia is a wonderful opportunity for student athletes,” Free said.

“The scholarship is not only a legacy of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games but also a great legacy for Ron Clarke who was a great sportsman, community member, and so instrumental in the Commonwealth Games.

“As Bianca said, the scholarship is life changing, we [at the Griffith Sports College] like to help change young peoples’ lives for the better and we love to hear how the scholarships can help, especially student athletes who are time-poor.

“Student athletes have to study and then have to train sometimes 25 to 30 hours a week on top of their studies… so it all adds up to leaving them very little time to socialise let alone time to work.

“So through the ‘financial freedom’ if I can call it that a scholarship affords, it allows our students athletes the ability to focus on their studies, their sport and their passions, which for Bianca and Beryl is their Indigenous community engagement work.”

“We are extremely proud we at the Griffith Sports College can support Bianca and Beryl in their studies and in their sport and in their community engagement work.”

RECONCILIATION ACTION PLAN WORKING GROUP ESTABLISHED

Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) continues its commitment to being an active participant in Australia’s reconciliation journey, with the announcement of the CGA Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group.

Helen Clarke, Ron’s wife, said her and her and Ron’s sons are thrilled to learn that two young women who are passionate about giving back and being involved in their communities are the inaugural recipients of the scholarship named in honour of her late husband, stating that Ron would be proud of their passion for sport, education and their community.

“We are very thrilled for Bianca and Beryl, for myself and my sons Nicolas and Marcus, we wish them well,” Mrs. Clarke said.

Griffith University has been the choice of education for many Commonwealth Games Australia team members over the years, including eight-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Emma McKeon OAM, Gold Coast 2018 silver medallist in the hammer throw Matt Denny, two-time Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist Madison de Rozario, and eight-time Commonwealth Games medallist Cameron McEvoy.

Gold Coast 2018 weightlifter and Griffith University alumni Brandon Wakeling, who graduated with a Bachelor of Business in 2016, is excited for fellow Indigenous athletes to have opportunities at the University.

“I work as an ambassador for Deadly Choices, and what I talk about in my role is building pathways for exceeding the boundaries of what our Indigenous population can do,” Wakeling said.

“So to have more of a showing at the University, and to really push these two athletes to be the best that they can be both on and off of the court and the water, is going to be a massive plus for the Indigenous community.”

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