Athletic greatness, both past and present, was on show at the 26th annual Great Court Race on May 12.
Based on the famous Cambridge University Race depicted in the film Chariots of Fire, the 636m lap of the Great Court is one of UQ’s most prestigious traditions.
First year Human Movements student, Jordan Pearce, stunned the field by winning the men’s event on debut, while last year’s champion, Kristyn Mackrell, defended her title impressively in the women’s race.
Ms Mackrell, an Occupational Therapy student, held off a strong challenge from 1500m specialist Lucy Kennedy to move one step closer to her goal of five straight Great Court victories.
Men’s winner, Jordan Pearce, surprised even himself when he finished strongly to edge out state 1500m finalist Grant Williams by just half a second.
Mr Pearce said this was his first race back after a four-month break from training. He was the under-19 schoolboys state champion in both the 800m and 1500m last year, and subsequently took a break from athletics because of injury concerns.
In UQ’s Centenary year, the heritage-listed Great Court played host to a unique display of old and new, as athletes from the past were honoured by all in attendance.
Amongst medal presenters was Norma Fleming, a member of the 4x100m relay team that won gold at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Competitor from the inaugural Great Court Race some 26 years ago, Dr Richard Bonner, also assisted with proceedings.
Dr Bonner finished fourth in the 1985 event, held in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Kent to commemorate UQ’s 75th anniversary.
Dr Bonner’s, sons, Chris and Brady, were members of the St John’s College relay team who were a late entry into the inter-college relay event, much to his delight.
“It’s great to see them following in my footsteps,” Dr Bonner said.
“It made me want to get out there and race again,” he said.
The St John’s team unfortunately missed out on a place, while St Leo’s College upset last year’s winners King’s College to take out the event.
In the women’s relay, Duchesne College pipped defending champions The Women’s College on the line in what was the most exciting finish of the day.
In the 70m sprint event, first time competitors Dominic Kluz and Nicola Johnstone took the honours.
The University of Queensland and event organisers UQ Sport would like to thank major sponsors 2XU and the University of Queensland Athletics Club; event supporters the Co-Op Bookshop, the Fox Hotel, the University of Queensland Club and Pulse Start; and providers of the perpetual trophy, the Alumni Friends of the University of Queensland Inc.
Media: Simon Byrne at UQ Sport (07 3346 7518, firstname.lastname@example.org)