Coming off the back of a successful Eastern University Games, the ANU Owls descended on a sweltering Gold Coast this week hoping for their best University Games showing yet. Consisting of 148 athletes and seven coaches, the team competed in sixteen teams across 15 different sports.

In the overall pennants table, the ANU came away with two bronze medals in mixed beach volleyball and men’s hockey (improving on last year’s single bronze). In other team events, the Owls came agonisingly close to gaining further medals, only to fall in closely-fought semi-finals or bronze medal matches.

The six fourth-placed teams in the final tally are testament to just how close the team came to securing further podium finishes and will no doubt encourage the team heading into next year’s Games.

Outside of the overall team tally, the ANU achieved a string impressive victories or top-three finishes across multiple disciplines. The University of Technology Sydney were the overall Games champions.

‘Aside from these strong results it is fantastic to see the team culture that is developing around the team. This was highlighted on the Thursday night as all 150 students crammed into the Hockey Center to cheer on Men’s team in their important semi final against Melbourne University.

‘It is excellent to see the students taking such pride in representing the university and buying into being an ANU Owl,’ a spokesperson from ANU Sport said, adding that the perception of the University Games was changing and would continue to attract the University’s top athletes as a ‘fantastic way to make new friends and represent their University.’

Yosuke Okada impressively qualified out of his Kendo first-round pool be- fore going onto win the event, beating representatives from the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Technology Sydney in the final to cap off one of the best ANU performances at the Games.

In the swimming, the Women’s 4×50 Metre Medley Relay team bagged themselves a silver medal, finishing just 0.8 seconds behind winners Bond University. The Women’s 4×50 Metre Freestyle Relay team also went home with a medal, securing a bronze behind the two Queensland teams of Bond University and the Queensland University of Technology. Meanwhile, in the Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles, Angus Proudfoot ran strongly in a closely-fought race, finishing second.

However it was in the rowing events that the ANU had the most individual success. An impressive silver in the Mixed Four (Coxed) A Final was followed up by two gold medals in both the Women’s Single Scull and Women’s Double Scull A Finals. Outside of the medalled places, the Owls also managed a handful of fourth and fifth placings.

Overall, the 2017 Games were an improvement on previous years’ results, with not only impressive final results, but also a plethora of near misses and closely fought losses.

Heading back to Canberra, the team can be incredibly proud of their achievements, particularly given the trying heat they experienced throughout the week. The signs are promising heading into 2018.