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May 31, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Victoria wins New Zealand Universities Blues

Non-traditional sports get traditional awards

Six students at Victoria University of Wellington are the latest recipients of the coveted New Zealand Universities Blues awards for sporting achievements.

Victoria University students Phillip Drew and Aiken Hakes received the NZU Blue for outstanding achievements in croquet, while Lizzie Ingham was recognised for her performances in orienteering. Ella Edginton, Polly Higbee, and Stephen Whittington were rewarded for debating.

Winners were revealed last week by University Sport New Zealand, acknowledging the triumphs of university athletes in 2009.

From the 60 students across New Zealand who will receive the awards, 16 represented the country at the Beijing Olympics, while a further 28 have been granted a Prime Minister Scholarship for 2010.

University Sport New Zealand Executive Director Louise Burns says receiving a New Zealand Universities Blue is one of the greatest honours a student athlete can achieve.

“Since 1919 just over 2500 NZU Blues have been awarded. Previous recipients include All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, Olympic gold medallist Danyon Loader and 2009 Halberg recipient, rower Hamish Bond, so this year’s recipients are certainly amongst good company.”

VUWSA Clubs and Events Manager Melissa Barnard was understandably pleased with Victoria’s performance.

With attentions turned to professionalising the realm of sport, Barnard admitted winning an NZU Blue is a demanding feat.

“The selection criteria for winning an award for sports such as rugby are difficult.

“While there is a strong focus on their athletic performances, students must meet academic requirements. Players must be at the top of their game, which is the case for Drew and Hakes who have represented New Zealand.”

New Zealand Debating Champion Stephen Whittington agreed the selection process was tough but felt Victoria provides the debating society with a great deal of support, including sponsorship for international competitions.

“Our speakers are internationally respected and certainly debating is a strong sport at Victoria University.

“I understand criteria for selecting debating award winners in the NZU Blues are being reviewed, but young people are often interested in the debating society when they start here.”

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