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Athlete Achievement Highlights Personal Excellence Awards
8 October 2015
Many of our great performers on the field also excel off the field, balancing study and work with demanding physical schedules. The Personal Excellence Award, which will be presented at the WAIS Annual Dinner, recognises athlete's who have excelled in their academic and professional pursuits, balancing these alongside their sporting commitments.
This article first appeared on the WAIS website (

The shortlisted nominations for this year’s WAIS Personal Excellence Award combine an inspiring collection of individual achievement set against sporting success.

Dual Olympic water polo medallist Gemma Beadsworth, is joined on the shortlist, by Rio 2016 Paralympic Games hopeful Brant Garvey, cancer survivor Sutherlan Scudds and wheelchair basketball legend Brad Ness.

The prize, which has previously gone by the title of the WAIS Athlete Career and Education Award, is presented for academic and professional accomplishments within an athlete’s career path, whilst maintaining focus and commitment to their chosen sport. It winner will be announced at this year’s WAIS Annual Dinner on Saturday October 17.

Gemma Beadsworth (Water Polo)

Gemma Beadsworth representing Australia at this year's World Championships

As a dual Olympic medallist at 24, WAIS athlete Gemma Beadsworth stepped away from international sport following the London Olympics to forge a professional career with Peet Limited, Australia’s largest specialist residential land developer.

Whilst her career flourished, Gemma continued playing national level water polo with the Fremantle Marlins, helping her club side to a championship in 2014. Beadsworth returned to the national team fold this year, with an appearance at the World Championships in Russia, whilst she has also advanced her career to now hold the position of Assistant Development Manager with Peet. She continues to work full-time, whilst maintaining a full training load and stands a significant chance of representing Australia at a third Olympic campaign next year in Rio.

Brant Garvey (Para-Triathlon)

Brant Garvey

When Para-Triathlon was announced as a new Paralympic event for the 2016 Rio Games, Brant Garvey identified the goal of being one of the first athletes to represent Australia at Paralympic level.

Brant’s support was dented when he was made redundant from his part-time IT role, but rather than dwell on the news, Brant took it as an opportunity to dedicate more time to training, whilst setting up his own "noXcuses” brand which has seen him create a meaningful partnership with HBF that has allowed him to pursue his dream of gaining Paralympic selection. Brant regularly volunteers his time at speaking engagements and through other community activities – demonstrating champion behaviour both in and out of sport.

Brad Ness (Wheelchair Basketball)

Brad Ness

As the captain of the current world champion Australian men’s wheelchair basketball team, Brad Ness is undeniably a busy man.

Not only is he on track to compete at a fifth Paralympic Games campaign, Brad – along with his wife Giovanna – recently opened a successful Pizza Restaurant (Manga Pizza) in Fremantle, whilst he is also an ambassador and driving influence behind the Red Dust Heelers group, that uses sport as a tool to promote inclusion across all areas of life, with a focus on disability and indigenous communities, particularly in regional areas. Brad’s champion qualities as an athlete speak for itself, but his willingness to support WAIS values has also seen him open his business to other WAIS sporting programs, most notably a culture and leadership workshop with the predominantly teenage members of the WAIS men’s hockey program.

Sutherlan Scudds (Fencing)

Sutherlan Scudds

For most people, finishing a law degree would stand alone as an incredible achievement.

That Sutherlan Scudds was able to meet this challenge concurrent with receiving treatment for a brain tumour pays testament to his remarkable resolve. Sutherlan received an academic award for completing his final unit whilst undergoing radiation treatment. More recently, Sutherlan has returned to fencing, winning a national title last June, set against a burgeoning professional career that has seen him complete his article clerkship and gain admittance to the legal profession where he has represented clients in court covering his own files. Sutherlan’s passion for fencing has seen him continue to push for Olympic selection, whilst dedicating service to coaching and acting as a mentor to other fencers at state and national level. The resilience and commitment Sutherlan has shown in both his professional and sporting pursuits, serve as inspiration to all athletes and staff at WAIS.

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