After a momentary slip and falling off the beam during qualifications, newly registered nurse Amanda Edwards didn’t think she’d make it to the finals in the gymnastics competition at the Summer FISU World Games held in China this month.
But the 22-year-old, representing Edith Cowan University (ECU) and Australia secured the 18th and last remaining spot and ended up coming 12th in the all-rounder apparatus final which included performances in the vault, beam, bar and floor.
The UniRoos is the name given to all high-performance Aussie teams competing at the World University Championships this year.
Known to many as the University Olympics, the Summer FISU World Games features the world’s best university students, or recently graduated athletes. The Games, held from 28 July to 8 August were held in Chengdu, China.
There were 98 competitors, from 50 countries, including Japan, Russia, Canada, Turkey and Italy in this year’s summer event. Athletes competed in a range of Olympic sports, from track and field, to swimming, netball, basketball and diving events.
“It’s a combination of the most elite athletics champions from universities all around the world, from a range of different sports, and I am so honoured to have had this experience,” Amanda said.
Amanda competed in the gymnastics tournament, after qualifying as an international elite in 2020. She started competition gymnastics in 2012, about a year after she took up the sport, aged 10. Ironically, she slipped on the beam at the FISU World Games in what is her strongest apparatus.
“I love it. There’s no place to hide in on beam, there’s no margin for error. I love perfecting my routine.”
The FISU Games, held every two years, was due to be held in China in 2021 but was postponed due to COVID. Hence this was Amanda’s only games while studying a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree at ECU.
While Amanda has competed in national championships in Australia, this was the largest event in which she has competed – being on the world stage, in front of a sold-out audience in the arena.
“It was a lifetime experience meeting other gymnasts and athletes from other countries. I was very proud representing my family, my country and of course ECU.”
She stayed in the athletes’ village and the competition was live streamed where family and friends could watch back home.
“It was so amazing. China was a lot more beautiful than I thought it would be – such big, green spaces. I would train in the morning and get to see the sights in the afternoon – I got to see the pandas. Chengdu is a city of pandas.”
Amanda recently completed her degree and secured a 12-month graduate position at the Perth Children’s Hospital which she started on Monday.
“It’s all lined up for me – going to the Games and now starting my grad program. I’ve always wanted to do paeds. I coach gymnastics and am around kids all the time. I’m a little nervous starting on Monday. There’s a couple of students from ECU amid an intake of about 50 new graduates starting the 12-month grad program.”
Balancing her studies with a strict gymnastics training regime (20 hours a week) holds Amanda in good stead for entering the nursing profession. She started her nursing studies mid-2020 during COVID.
“I was a bit oblivious. There were lots of people leaving the workforce but it just encouraged me to continue doing nursing. If I can treat people how I would want to be treated if I was sick and unwell – that is with kindness and compassion.”
What stands out for Amanda during her time at university is the bond she shares with her fellow students – now registered nurses.
“The bond I have made with other nursing students – they are lifelong friendships. It’s really special and we support each other so much. I have friends starting at Charles Gardner Hospital across the way and we’re going to catch up after work.”
The 32nd FISU World University Games will be held 16-27 July 2025 in Rhine, Germany.