The Australia Day accolades have continued for UOW, with past and present students and teachers recognised for their contributions on Thursday 26 January 2017.
The Australia Day Honours recognise men and women who have made contributions that have benefited Australia and humanity at large.
In between study commitments, UOW Engineering student James Turner was a member of the Australian Pararoos seven-a-side team for cerebral palsy footballers.
When the Pararoos were unsuccessful in their bid for Rio, James turned his attention to athletics.
“After we (the Pararoos) didn’t quite make it I came home to a few emails from Athletics Australia – they saw footage of me playing in Birmingham,” he said.
“They were wondering if I was still any good at athletics and if I would be willing to give it a shot.
“It turned out alright,” he laughed.
The chance taken by Athletics Australia paid off, with James going on to represent Australia in the Rio Paralympics, breaking a world record for the T36 Men’s 800m and bringing home the gold medal.
James received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to sport as a gold medallist in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“I was absolutely lost for words when I found out, absolutely gobsmacked,” he said.
“I am so humbled and honoured to receive the award.”
Currently studying a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, James hopes to one day work in the automotive industry, with the goal of making cars more efficient.
His advice to aspiring young sports stars is simple.
“Get in there, train hard and see how good you can get. You’ll never know unless you put everything into it.”
Joining James on the Honours List was Dr Ann Ellacott from Thirroul.
A General Practitioner and Senior Partner at Thirroul Medical Practice and Tutor/Clinical Associate Professor in UOW’s Graduate School of Medicine, Dr Ellacott received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to medicine, to community health, and to education.
The award cited her contribution as Leader of the Thirroul Girl Guides, her work as a specialist in the Sexual Assault Unit at Wollongong Hospital and her passion for training the next generation of doctors.
Former UOW student and NAB Sports Scholarship recipient (2013), swimmer Emma McKeon was also awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her efforts in Rio, where she won four medals.
In a separate Australia Day event, UOW student Ashley Bailey was awarded the Frank Darlington Young Achiever of the Year Award by Tamworth Regional Council for her commitment to an overseas humanitarian project.
UOW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, congratulated all recipients for taking their place on the Honour Roll.
“I am delighted to have each of these hard-working award recipients influencing the University in one way or another,” he said.
“From sporting achievements to community outreach, it is amazing what can be done when passion drives these individuals throughout their endeavours.”
Photo supplied courtesy of the Australian Paralympic Committee