Marli Wilkinson Named Buxton Athletics Scholar

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by Mrinal Asija

Master of Construction Management student-athlete Marli Wilkinson has been awarded an Andrew and Geraldine Buxton Athletics Scholarships for 2024.

Wilkinson joins an illustrious list of recipients, including Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jemima Montag, World Champion para-athlete Jaryd Clifford, and Olympians Joel Baden, Regan Lamble and Catriona Bisset.

The 23-year-old, who primarily competes in the 400m hurdles event, recently notched up her biggest accomplishment on the track, winning a silver medal at the 2024 Australian Athletics Championships, held in Adelaide this April. On her way to the second-place finish, she registered a new personal best time of 56.11.

The success at the Australian Championships wrapped up what was a breakthrough season for Wilkinson, with news of the scholarship coming as recognition of her commitment to athletics and her academics. It was indeed Marli’s determination and hard work that brought her a series of great results over the last few months as she overcame a sustained battle with injuries.

Speaking on her struggles pre-COVID, Marli said “I had a pretty unlucky run with injuries including a femur stress fracture, which tested my motivation to stay in the sport.”

“Fast forward to the 2023/24 season, after having put together some great consistent training blocks, I am finally reaping the rewards of sticking with it. Whilst injuries continue to test my patience, it has taught me so much in terms of resilience and trusting the process and planning my coach and I know will come good with consistency.”

While the track is what Marli now aims to dominate, athletics wasn’t her sole focus until she finished year 12. While in school, she tried Trampolining, Gymnastics, Swimming, and Taekwondo, in which she holds a black belt (second Dan). She was also involved in Surf-Lifesaving where she finished fifth at the World Championships in the Beach Sprint Relay alongside multiple Victorian State Championships.

It’s evident that Marli is an all-around talented sportswoman, but it was her school coach who identified her athletic potential. “My school athletics coach, who has now been my coach for the last six years, told me to really give athletics a shot once I finished year 12. I tried heptathlon and high jump, then finally settled on the 400m hurdles as the nature of the event interested me. The logic behind stride patterns and what the recipe is for success, depending on conditions, makes it such a great event.”

Having previously completed a Bachelor of Science degree, Marli has been at the University of Melbourne for six years. “The Elite Athlete Program has allowed me to pursue academics and sport simultaneously by providing flexible scheduling, academic support, and resources to balance both commitments effectively.”

Marli started the new season in early June at the Oceania Athletic Championships in Fiji with her first appearance for the Australian Open team, finishing second. She will also compete in tournaments in Europe in her bid to qualify for next year’s World Championships and prepare for the World University Games, where she will be representing Australia and the University. She believes the Scholarship will help her focus more on her studies and athletics by taking away the financial burden of training and travel expenses.

The Andrew and Geraldine Buxton Athletics Scholarships were established in 2017 with thanks to the support of Andrew and Geraldine Buxton. The Andrew and Geraldine Buxton Athletics Scholarship Fund provides financial support and other in-kind assistance to two University of Melbourne student-athletes who want to pursue education at the University of Melbourne while excelling in athletics.