Meet the Aussie Olympians who are also STEM stars

Sinead (second from right) competed in the Doha World Championships in 2019, while working full-time at NAB. And now? The Tokyo Olympics! Image: NAB

Transferable, much? These talented sports stars have gold medal-worthy STEM skills

Despite being held during a global pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics have been some of the coolest games of all time. The facilities are unbelievable, the tech is slick, and with more than 9,500 hours of content captured on 1,000+ camera systems and 3,600+ microphones, tuning in from home has never felt so immersive.

But one of the coolest things about this year’s event is that loads of the athletes have equally impressive STEM careers – or are studying to land one. We’ve hunted down four with medal-worthy CVs.

1. Jack McLoughlin, swimmer and engineering student

Jack McLoughlin
For Jack McLoughlin, Tokyo will be his second Olympics after competing in Rio in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle and winning gold in the event at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Image: QUT

When Jack McLoughlin isn’t winning silver medals at the Olympics, he’s studying structural civil engineering at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

“To be at the top of my game I have to have a balanced life and that involves my study!” he stresses. “I’m extremely passionate about both swimming and engineering and being part of QUT has allowed me to do both at the highest of levels.”

2. Sinead Diver, marathon runner and software engineer

Sinead won the Melbourne Marathon in 2018 at age 41, setting a new course record. Image: NAB

In quite possibly one of the coolest bits of athlete trivia ever, Australian marathon runner Sinead Diver is also a software engineer at the National Australia Bank (NAB).

The 44-year-old mum of two only trialed the event seven years ago, and credits her success to a great support network and work flexibility.

“I love running, but also my current role at NAB,” said Sinead in a statement. “The flexible hours have made everything more manageable and I’m very lucky to work with a highly skilled & supportive team.”

3. Paul Adams, shooter and nurse

Paul competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and returned for Tokyo 2021! Image: Shooting Australia

After missing out on a place at the London Olympics in 2012, Paul considered quitting shooting to pursue studies and work. But instead the 26-year-old balanced both – qualifying for Rio and scoring a nursing degree and then job at a Brisbane hospital.

“They are very supportive and mostly work around my training schedule,” Paul says of his supportive employer.

4. Matthew Lydement, weight-lifter and science student

Matthew said the support of the Elite Athletes Program had helped him to undertaking university study while preparing for his first Olympics, including support in rescheduling exams around his international competition commitments. Image: Australian Olympic Committee

Sick of the constant injuries he’d get from playing cricket, rugby and AFL, Matthew Lydement took up weightlifting in 2014. And the rest? Olympic history!

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a plan for when he retires from the sport. Earlier this year he kickstarted a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at QUT as a mature-aged student!

“Coming from working full time to being a student, it’s definitely been different,” he said. “But being mature aged has probably been the best thing for me rather than trying to do it straight from school.”


Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.


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