Jopling Scholarship allowing young rower to have it all

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Matt Roseby; 30 January

Competitive rower and University of Melbourne student Eliza Gaffney was named the third-ever Jopling Scholarship Awardee this month; one of the most valuable grants amongst the country’s tertiary institutions.

Established in 2020, the Jopling Family Rowing Scholarship is Australia’s preeminent rowing scholarship, awarding $25,000 annually in educational support plus other in-kind athletic assistance. The scholarship supports undergraduate and postgraduate student-athletes for up to four years.

Gaffney, a current Juris Doctor student and the 2022 recipient of the John Hall Rowing Scholarship, credits the financial support with allowing her to balance both full-time studies with being able to compete at an elite level.

“I feel super privileged having been awarded both scholarships. Being a recipient of the John Hall Scholarship for the past few years has allowed me to reach the position I am in today. Hopefully, the Jopling Family Rowing Scholarship will let me achieve my goals in the future."

Having gained selection to both the U/23 National Team and Senior A National Team last year, Eliza is leading the pack of a group of young rowers fighting for Olympic selection for Paris in 2024. The 22-year-old was selected in the Queen’s Cup and Henley Royal Regatta, rounding out a brutal 2022 competitive season that Eliza is confident has provided her the experience in international competition that will prove crucial in Senior National Team selections.

“(Australia) is very fortunate because we have many returning athletes from the previous Olympia, many of whom are keen to continue to Paris. Their international experience is invaluable, and it helps us younger girls mature as athletes, having rowers with so much experience not just overseas, but with experience winning. But the double edge sword with that is that with so many people returning, it makes it so much harder to get in”.

President of the Melbourne University Boat Club (MUBC) and Olympic Silver Medalist Christian Ryan said that financial support from the Jopling scholarship is essential in allowing young athletes to balance an elite sporting career and their higher education study.

“An award of this type is a massive first step in providing financial support for athletes. The amount of time these young athletes need to train to compete on the international stage diminishes their ability to work part-time and study as well. This scholarship supports a gap for athletes who have the potential to make it; without it, something must give.”

“I feel the financial support Eliza received through the John Hall Rowing Scholarship last year has contributed to her making the senior team in 2022 ahead of expectations.”

Christian is also enthusiastic about the number of young rowers currently coming up in Australia. He described elite rowing as a game of ‘inches’ where athletes and their support teams work in a four-year Olympic cycle.

“If they’re not ready in 2024, our young rowers are in excellent stead for 2028.”

The Jopling Family Scholarships have been made possible due to the generosity of Mr. Peter Jopling AM in honour of his father, Mr. John Jopling Jr, and his passion for education and rowing. Mr. Jopling was passionate about the importance of quality education and the life-changing impact that such an education can have on an individual.

Eliza Gaffney (leftmost) with 2022 Jopling Scholarship Awardee Fraser Miscamble (second from left)