ACU students Mack Horton, Emma Tonegato win gold at Rio Olympics

Australian swimmer Mack Horton is congratulated by David McKeon after winning gold in the men's 400m freestyle on the opening day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Australian swimmer Mack Horton is congratulated by David McKeon after winning gold in the men’s 400m freestyle on the opening day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Two Australian Catholic University students have won gold in the opening days of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

ACU business student Mack Horton won Australia’s first gold medal of Games, taking out the 400 metres men’s freestyle swimming final.

Mack held off defending Olympic champion Sun Yang from China to become the sixth Australian to win gold in the 400 metres freestyle, joining the likes of sporting greats Ian Thorpe and Murray Rose.

Rugby Sevens star Emma Tonegato, an ACU occupational therapy student, scored a try in the final against New Zealand.

The Australian team defeated the Kiwis 24-17 to win gold.

Anabelle Smith, who is studying exercise and sports science at ACU, delivered a remarkable comeback performance in the diving pool to claim the bronze medal in the women’s synchronised 3m-springboard event.

ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven congratulated both ACU students on their success in Rio.

“It is with immense pride that on behalf of all the ACU community, I congratulate Mack on becoming an Olympic gold medallist and Anabelle on her bronze medal, continuing Australia’s fine tradition of success in the pool,” Professor Craven said.

“As part of the Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP), Mack and Anabelle have been able to prepare for the Olympic Games while studying. EAPP provides athletes and performers like Mack and Anabelle with tremendous support so they can realise their dreams, and this is the perfect example.”

Mack, Emma and Anabelle are among eight ACU students past and present competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including Australia’s first Olympian and Paralympian Melissa ‘Milly’ Tapper, a table tennis star and a graduate of exercise and sports science at ACU.

Exercise and sports science alumnus Grant Nel is competing in the diving pool.

ACU’s most successful Paralympic athlete is swimmer Ellie Cole, who studied health and exercise science.

Ellie sports nine Paralympic medals and is favoured to triumph in the pool once again.