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Australian netball vice-captain Gabi Simpson and national gymnastics champion Michael Mercieca have been named The University of Queensland’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year.

UQ Sportsman of the Year Michael Mercieca, and UQ Sportswoman of the Year Gabi Simpson

The UQ Sports Achievement Scholarship recipients were honoured at the UQ Sport 2018 Club and Sports Awards, which recognise excellence in sport and contribution to university life.

Gabi Simpson, a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games silver medallist, is now a two-time UQ Sportswoman of the Year recipient – first winning the prize in 2016.

Gabi said support from UQ faculties contributed to her successful season on-court.

“I am extremely grateful to be awarded Sportswoman of the Year – not because of the success I was fortunate enough to have in 2017 but because it represents a university that understands the importance of balance,” Gabi said.

“UQ, UQ Sport and the Physiotherapy faculty have been nothing but supportive of me, no matter the ever-changing schedule I have thrown their way.

“This has allowed me to have had such a successful year both on court and in my studies.”

This has capped off a remarkable 2017 for the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) student, who also claimed the Liz Ellis Diamond award and the Queensland Firebirds’ Most Valuable Player and Player’s Player awards.

Gabi also captained the Firebirds to fifth place in the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball season, and was announced as Australia’s joint vice-captain in August.

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student Michael Mercieca is the first male gymnast to receive the UQ Sportsman of the Year honour.

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games representative won titles in the Men’s Senior All-Around, Still Rings, and Team events at the 2017 Australian Gymnastics Championships.

He also claimed fifth in the High Bar event at the Gymnastics World Cup, and was fifth in the Horizontal Bar at the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei, Taiwan.

Michael said he is delighted to make history by winning the award.

“It is such an honour to be named and placed amongst so many talented athletes,” Mercieca said.

“UQ has been immensely supportive in shaping my sporting and university career and I am proud to be a part of such a great culture.”

The UQ Beach Volleyball Club received the prestigious $5000 Hulbert Bursary – awarded for outstanding achievement, innovation and best practice in club management.

In 2017, the club grew its overall membership by more than 20 per cent, introduced an elite-level training program, and ran weekly competitive fixtures that attracted more than 30 teams from across Brisbane.

UQ Judo Club won the President’s Cup for exceptional competition performance, after it was crowned champion university at the 2017 Australian Uni Games on the Gold Coast.

UQ Judo last won the President’s Cup in 1973.

The UQ Touch Football Club received three awards, including both the Administrator and All-Rounder of the Year categories.

Club Coach of the Year was awarded to UQ Cricket’s Peter Clarke, who guided teams to four premierships in the 2016/17 season.

The event was held at the Regatta Hotel’s Boatshed Restaurant and was hosted by Nine News sport presenter Sam Squiers.

UQ Sport 2018 Club and Sports Awards – Winners

  • Sportswoman of the Year: Gabi Simpson (Netball)
  • Sportsman of the Year: Michael Mercieca (Artistic Gymnastics)
  • Hulbert Bursary: UQ Beach Volleyball Club
  • President’s Cup: UQ Judo Club
  • Club Coach of the Year: Peter Clarke – UQ Cricket Club
  • Club All-Rounder of the Year: Justin Cridland – UQ Touch Football Club
  • Club Administrator of the Year: James Sharp – UQ Touch Football Club
  • Club Volunteer of the Year: Bill Bridgeford – UQ Boat Club.
  • Club Service Award: Ralph French – UQ Boat Club; Gail Cartwright – UQ Cricket Club; Jodie Gair – UQ Touch Football Club

Media: Jamie Mitchell, UQ Sport, JamieM@uqsport.com.au, 0423 785 752.