Jacqui Lawrence’s friends and teachers from her undergraduate days at the University of New England are all delighted that her dedication as a kayaker has resulted in a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics.
UNE graduate Michael Waggitt, who met Jacqui through the UNE Mountaineering Club, was one of a group of her friends and kayaking companions who watched her on television as she came second to Slovakia’s Elena Kaliska in the women’s K1 single slalom. “It was fantastic to see her do so well after all the years she’s been training,” Mr Waggitt said. “Now we’re looking forward to seeing her in the 2012 Olympics in London â€“ perhaps with her sisters, who are also great kayakers.”
Jacqui Lawrence (pictured here) graduated from UNE in 2005 with a First Class Honours degree in Natural Resources. “She was a very hard-working student, and applied the same focus and determination to her studies as she did to her kayaking,” said UNE’s Associate Professor Richard Faulkner, co-supervisor (with Dr Janelle Wilkes) of her final-year project. “She showed great initiative in her project, which was on saving water in the Sydney area by using rainwater tanks.”
Coming from Old Bonalbo in northern NSW, Jacqui won a UNE Country Scholarship to enter her degree program at UNE in 2000. The criteria for these awards are academic excellence and involvement and leadership in school and community activities. She lived for several years in Drummond and Smith College, where she is remembered for her high level of motivation, her leadership qualities, and her work as an Academic Mentor.
Mr Waggitt recalled visits by himself, Jacqui, and her fellow champion kayaker Robert Cork to The Armidale School to help the students with their kayaking.
Jacqui was selected to represent Australia in the World Junior Slalom Championships in the Slovak Republic in 2000, attending the event with support from Sport UNE.
In 2001, when she was the Australian Junior Whitewater Canoeing Champion, she was awarded the inaugural Sport UNE Full Sporting Scholarship. In the same year, she and Robert Cork led the UNE kayaking team that won two gold, eight silver and three bronze medals at the Australian University Games in Ballarat (finishing a close second to Sydney University overall). Jacqui and Robert won nine of those medals between them. Jacqui also competed in the women’s canoe polo team, which won a silver medal.
She was an elected member of the Sport UNE General Committee in 2001-02.
In 2002 she represented Australia at World University level as a member of the White Water Kayaking Team that competed in Poland. In the same year she won nine gold, four silver and two bronze medals at the Australian University Canoe / Kayaking Championships hosted by UNE at Nymboida, and she and Robert Cork won a bronze medal in the mixed C2 slalom event in the National White Water Kayaking Championships.
She was awarded the Bill Hanlan Shield for the UNE Sportsperson of the Year in 2003. In that year, too, she was selected for the Australian under-22 team that competed in Europe, achieving 5th and 7th places against the world’s top 40 competitors.