24 September 2010
Fighting fit and going for glory
Chantal d'Argaville and Sammy Scaffidi are representing RMIT at the Australian University Games.
Mr Scaffidi is hoping to defend his gold medal in Perth.
Ms d'Argaville will be competing in her first university games.
The athletes are supported by RMIT Union.
Students Chantal d'Argaville and Sammy Scaffidi are going for gold at the Australian University Games, joining 82 RMIT University teammates in Perth next week.
The RMIT Redbacks will compete in 11 sports at the games, ranging from athletics to water polo.
Mr Scaffidi is hoping to match his success at last year's event on the Gold Coast, in which he won a gold medal.
"Last year I competed only in the sparring but this year, I'm entering a combination of technical and sparring events so hopefully I can defend my championship," he said.
The Bachelor of Engineering (Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics) student has been training in taekwondo for six years and holds a 1stDan Black Belt.
Mr Scaffidi represented Australia for the first time in July this year at the Korean Open, where he won a silver medal in the sparring and a bronze in a technical event, the poomsae.
"It was a lot more difficult than anything I'd known at state level but it was such a great experience to be up against competitors at an international level," he said.
While in Korea, Mr Scaffidi also had the chance to learn from the masters of the sport, taking part in seminars at the headquarters of taekwondo.
"I'm more concentrated on my career and my studies than I am on my sport, but with the amazing experiences I've had in taekwondo, I definitely want to continue competing at university, state and national levels as long as I can," he said.
At only 17, Ms d'Argaville will be one of the younger competitors at the games.
The Diploma of Building and Construction student was a talented swimmer but discovered a new passion when she began fencing four years ago.
"My dad had done fencing when he was younger so when I wanted to change sports - because keeping up both swimming and school was just getting too hard - he suggested I try it," Ms d’Argaville said.
"From the moment I walked through the doors at the training centre, I loved it. It was just so different and not like anything I'd ever tried before.
"It's more than just competing against another person; you're playing mind games, trying to get your opponent to attack and open up their defences.
"It’s a bit like chess, only with weapons!"
Unlike her father, who used the foil, Ms d'Argaville fences with the sabre.
In March this year, she competed at the Asian Junior Fencing Championships in Manila, where she made the top 16.
"It's such a commitment to become the best in this sport so I'm just working on trying to be the best in Australia and if I can achieve that, I’ll see where it goes from there," she said.
The 84 athletes heading to Perth receive financial support from RMIT Union Sport and Recreation to help meet the costs of travelling to the games.
The other sports in which RMIT will compete are basketball, beach volleyball, golf, netball, rowing, swimming and touch football.
The Australian University Games are being held from 26 September to 1 October.