Experienced senior sports administrators Kitty Chiller and Deidre Anderson have been added to the support staff to the Uniroos team for the upcoming Summer Universiade in Taipei.
The roles were announced at the Australian University Sport national conference on the Gold Coast where representatives of the Australian University Sport sector have gathered.
Two years ago, the Uniroos significantly improved on their results at the previous two Summer Universiades with a record medal haul, which has expectations high for the 2017 edition to be staged from 19-30 August.
The team’s overall performance in 2015 produced a total of 19 medals – four gold, three silver and twelve bronze – the best result for the Uniroos at a Summer Universiade ahead of the 16 in total won in both Russia in 2013 and China in 2011.
Chiller, a former student athlete at the University of Melbourne, who competed at the Sydney Olympics in the modern pentathlon will be an official ambassador for the team supporting athletes and officials.
Following her sporting career, which saw her ranked number one in the world over several years, she has become a well-respected leader on the other side of the fence – most recently as Chef de Mission for the Australian team at the Rio Olympic Games.
“My role really starts before Taipei, attending the team inductions, meeting the athletes, officials and management staff,” Chiller said.
“What Australian University Sport is looking to do is what we did with the Rio team, which is to bring all the different sports and function together as one united team, the aim is to start this prior to actually arriving in Taipei.
Chiller knows the importance of an experienced team of officials in an Olympic or Universiade village, particularly when there are so many youngsters attending their first world multi-sport competition.
Once in Taipei she will attend daily team meetings, helping Uniroos Chef de Mission Liz Brett with the daily Chef de Mission meetings, and touching base with any sports and officials that might need any help, advice or extra support.
“Sixty-three percent of our team in Rio were Olympic rookies,” Chiller explained.
“Some of them hadn’t competed at a Commonwealth Games either, so Rio was their first ever multi-sport event experience, it will be the same for many athletes in Taipei.
“It’s a whole different experience living in a village with so many different countries and different sports –that’s why the University Games is such a fantastic breeding ground for our future Olympians.
“I feel really lucky to be involved at this level to see those athletes who are potentially going to be our Olympians in Tokyo and beyond.
“Hopefully I can provide not only the athletes but the officials as well with that experience.”
The team will also be aided by the services of the president and chair of Australian University Sport, Deidre Anderson, who has been confirmed as the Australian University Sport delegate to the FISU General Assembly.
Anderson has also worked with the Scottish Institute of Sport, Australian Institute of Sport and UK Sport, will be a liaison between the team and FISU.
“We’ve got some really experienced and novice athletes competing at these Games, so my role will be to ensure they have the right environment for them to perform,” Anderson said.
“So that means very much at a personal level, so I’ll be working with those that might need to have a little bit more support.
“Really, just being a sounding board for them.”
FISU is the governing body of University Sport and has oversight on the World University Games, holding elections and AGMs in the same city that the games are held.
“It’s just about our team really working together in a unified way, in the best interests of the athletes and I think we’ve got every base covered,” she added.
“We’ve got a very experienced Chef De Mission in Liz Brett and a very competent ambassador in Kitty Chiller and then myself.
“It’s a critical pathway to senior international representation for many of these athletes and the closest competition that emulates an Olympic Games.
“So, if they can perform well and learn from the experience of this environment then they’re going to be incredibly prepared for the next step.”
Teams for athletics and swimming have been announced, with future team announcements to follow for the Uniroos team of more than 200 athletes participating across 14 sports.
Image courtesy of Athletics Australia/Getty Images