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Patrick Rebakis
May 25, 2017

Brothers Punch Above their Weight at New Zealand Open

May 25, 2017 by Patrick Rebakis

Two of ACU’s Elite Athletes, Tom and Will Afonczenko have both claimed medals at the Taekwondo New Zealand Open. At the pointy end of the semester when most students are in lock down mode with assignments and exam preparation, the Afonczenko brothers were locking arms with some of the world’s best fighters. The competition hosted mostly Australian, New Zealand and Asian athletes looking to score world ranking points and fight experience ahead of the World Championships in Korea next month.

Will conquered the 58-63 kg ‘Bantam’ weight division and won gold after defeating Japan in the final. While Tom claimed a bronze in the 63-68 kg ‘feather’ weight division after narrowly losing the semi-final to Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). The two brothers are studying Bachelors of Exercise & Health Science at ACU’s Melbourne campus and have given praise to the Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP).  

“The ACU EAPP has been so helpful and supportive with my World Championships preparations and allowed for me to keep on top of my studies whilst travelling to competitions and training camps held at the AIS and overseas” said Tom. While Will said, the EAPP “has allowed me to train and travel without the added pressure of my university workload as they have been extremely accommodating in balancing out my schedule”.

Will noted the great opportunity which the New Zealand Open offered, “it was a great competition to pick up crucial world ranking points and fight high quality players from around the world”. Older brother, Tom wasn’t complacent with a bronze medal result saying “I learnt a lot and will be looking to improve on my performance next month when I compete at the World Championships held in Muju, Korea”.

The Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) helps balance the demands of being an athlete or performer with academic pursuits to excel both at university and in their chosen field. ACU boasts over 380 student athletes and performers across more than 70 disciplines. Members of the EAPP have access to academic support, early timetabling and financial support, among other sporting or performing arts related opportunities. 

For more information about the program contact ACU’s EAPP Officer, Ceran Nilsen on