Dr William Tan is a Paralympian, ultramarathon competitor, neuroscientist, medical doctor and professional table tennis player.

Meet our alumni

UON GRADUATES ON THE ROAD TO RIO

Since the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, fifteen UON graduates and students have stepped onto the world’s stage and completed at either the Olympic and Paralympic games.

This year’s 31st Olympiad in Rio will play host to three UON graduate athletes representing Australia in athletics, Paralympic sailing and Paralympic track and field.

Christie Dawes

Ms Christie Dawes recently guaranteed her place in the Rio Paralympic Team by winning the women’s Gold Coast Marathon with a record breaking time of 1:43:45.

Ms Dawes said she would now “try to sneak in a 5000-metre, a 1500 metre and maybe a 4x400 relay” at this year’s Paralympics. Rio will be Ms Dawes sixth Olympic Games. She claimed bronze in the 5000m at London in 2012 and silver in the 4x100m relay at Beijing in 2008.

Ms Dawes graduated from UON in 2006 with a Bachelor of Teaching and a Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies. When she isn’t competing or training, Ms Dawes is a primary school teacher in Newcastle and enjoys communicating with and inspiring young people through her personal story.

Benn Harradine

Mr Benn Harradine is set to compete in the men’s discus throw at Rio, which will be his third Olympic games. He made the discus final at the London 2012 Olympics Games, placing ninth and was 31st on his debut at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This year, Mr Harradine will be looking to make his way into the top eight at the Rio Olympics.

Mr Harradine was born and raised in Newcastle and is a proud Indigenous man from the Watjabaluk/Wergia people of the Wimera.

Mr Harradine graduated from UON in 2007 with a Bachelor of Health & Physical Education and a Bachelor of Education.

Be sure to keep an eye out for him at Rio in his iconic #harrasuit, his themed lycra competition suits.

Liesl Tesch

Ms Liesl Tesch will be competing at Rio’s Paralympic Games in wheelchair sailing alongside teammate Mr Daniel Fitzgibbon. Rio will be Ms Tesch’s sixth Olympic games as she looks to defend her gold medal win from London 2012.

Ms Tesch is from Woy Woy on the NSW Central Coast and graduated from UON with a Bachelor of Science in 1991 and a Graduate Diploma in Education in 1996. She is also currently studying her Masters in Special Education so that she can teach youth with intellectual disabilities.

Ms Tesch says she loves teaching her students about diversity, using her Paralympic experience as a case study and is proud to have won a medal from every Olympic Games that her students have been alive.


Additionally, UON is very proud of all our graduate’s achievements. In particular, the following UON alumni play a crucial role in making the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a success beyond the sporting arena.

David Hughes

Dr David Hughes was named Medical Director to the Rio Olympic Team in October 2013.

His role will see him provide advice to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) on matters related to the health and wellbeing of athletes and the execution of medical services provided to the Australian Olympic Team.

Dr Hughes is also the Chief Medical Officer at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), and is the first individual to simultaneously fill both the AIS and Australian Olympic team lead medical roles.

Dr Hughes graduated from UON with a Bachelor of Medicine in 1987. He was also named a finalist for UON’s 2015 Alumni Award for National Leadership due to his key role in Australian sports medicine and his efforts in championing the integrity of Australian sport.

olympic coins

Ms Bronwyn King is the designer of the commemorative, two dollar Olympic and Paralympic coins. Creating the five designs, Ms King says she took inspiration from the flow of movement preformed in sport and the iconic Olympic rings. Across the five coins there are 32 sport motifs representing the majority of sports Australia is competing in.

Ms King graduated from UON with a Bachelor of Natural History Illustration in 2008 and has gone on to be the Royal Australian Mint’s youngest designer.

Each week, from 19 July, one coin featuring Ms King’s design will be released in Woolworths stores, so be sure to collect yours today.

We wish all of our athletes, UON alumni, students and participants, involved in the 2016 Rio Olympics, every success.

Images supplied by the Newcastle Herald.


GLOBAL HERO, DR WILLIAM TAN

In his home country of Singapore, Dr William Tan is a local celebrity, representing courage, compassion and, above all, the refusal to succumb to life’s obstacles. As a wheelchair athlete, he has conquered both the sports track and some of the toughest marathon terrains on earth, including the Antarctic and North Pole. And as a doctor, and cancer survivor, he’s used these global marathons to raise money and help those in need of urgent medical treatment across the globe.

William’s career as a medical doctor began at the University of Newcastle, Australia, graduating in 2004. He recently returned for the first time to accept the 2015 Alumni of the Year Award for Exceptional Community Service. We caught up with William during his visit, and again at the National Cancer Centre, Singapore, where he still works today. The result is the incredible tale of a young boy who decided never to give in, and the man who never has.

William Tan


What have you been up to since graduating? Are you, or maybe another UON graduate you know, doing something interesting or innovative? We’d love to hear about it! Drop us a line and share your story at alumni@newcastle.edu