Student Athlete Profile- David McManus

What is your sport?

Ultimate Disc

How many hours per week do you spend training/playing?

My usual routine is:
2 team trainings / skills trainings
3 Gym sets
1 Sprinting / footwork session
Most weeks a game or two

What study are you undertaking at ANU? What year of study are you in?

I’m doing a PhD in Physics (Department of Quantum Science), currently in my third year.

How do you juggle the commitments of playing sport and studying and does sport assist you in your academic pursuits?

It can be hard sometimes but I have a great supervisor who is very supportive. I find sport helps me to feel balanced and allows me to never get too stressed about my research.

Greatest sporting achievement.

Being selected in the Green & Gold team of the tournament at the Australian University Games last year in Perth while competing for the ANU Owls, and being selected on the Australian team for Beach World Championships. These have both felt like big moments in my sporting career.

Who has had the greatest influence on your sporting career thus far?

As a player to look up to it’s been Andrew Jackson who has played many seasons for my club team, I’ve also had a lot of support from my partner Angie.

Who is your sporting idol & why?

LeBron James, because even though he’s unbelievably talented he’s still a “team first” guy. He elevates his team-mates to play at a higher level instead of just relying on his own skill to carry them.

Any superstitions or unusual game day preparations?

Nothing strange, although it’s quite important for me to work myself into a good mental space since I’ve noticed it has a big impact on how well I play. That would be the main focus of my preparations for a game, along with the normal physical warm up you would expect.

Tell us something interesting or fascinating about yourself

I was lucky enough to be an author on a very important scientific paper which made world headlines (the detection of gravitational waves). The work I’m doing is on developing an instrument which may help improve the sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors. This will allow us to detect more signals from space which will help us learn about black holes and other things in the universe.

If you found yourself on Masterchef and had to cook one dish to win it all, what would your specialty dish be:

I’m a terrible cook, but I would try to cook ratatouille since I love the pixar movie of the same name.

Post Competition Report

In June I attended the World Championships of Beach Ultimate held in Royan, France. The tournament hosted 39 different countries who entered a total of 119 teams across 7 divisions. I represented Australia in the Mens division against 23 other countries. Beach Ultimate is the same game as regular ultimate disc except the field is on a beach and is smaller, with only 5 players from each team on the field at any one time (instead of 7).

I arrived in France a few days before the tournament allowing me to get settled in and hopefully shake off any jet lag from the flight over. We played a practice game at the fields the day after arriving. It was great to have a run around with the team after the long flight over to France. We stayed the week at a local hotel run by a lovely French man named Pascal. It was difficult to communicate with him because he spoke no English but he was enthusiastic about hosting us for the competition and following our teams progress.
The tournament goes for a full week and the schedule is pretty brutal with 3 games a day in the pool stages. It was really hot the whole week which made conditions for playing tough. Overall the team played really well. We had a really strong showing in the first few days of the tournament, and were looking to be contenders for the title. A tough loss on the last day of the group stage caused us to get a tougher quarter final against the USA, which unfortunately we lost. USA would go on to win gold in the grand final. We finished off the tournament well with a strong win over Canada to get 7th Place overall.
Having support from friends and family back home was a really memorable aspect of the trip. Games on the showcase fields were live streamed online. One of our pool games against New Zealand was streamed, and a lot of friends and family had told us that they would tune in. We put on a good performance in that game with a solid win. After the game it was awesome getting messages of support from people who had watched the stream back home.
The tournament had a large number of young volunteers who helped with things like setting up fields, timekeeping and so on. These kids were so excited about the tournament and had spent a lot of time training and getting ready to help out. Frisbee is still a fairly young sport and there isn’t really any money or fame attached to the top level yet. However these kids would run around after games and line up to get everyone to sign their shirts/hats. They were genuinely stoked to be able to meet us and it seemed like they saw us as superstars. It was definitely a fun and memorable experience to get that kind of treatment from some of the locals.

This is the highest level of competition that I’ve played, and the toughest opposition I’ve had to play against. It was a valuable learning experience for me to get to match up with some of the best players in the world. It’s given me a lot of confidence in my abilities going forward, and has helped me figure out what I can do to improve my game further.
After the tournament I travelled to Bordeaux for a few days to relax and do some wine and cheese tastings. I got to spend some time with some of the other players from the Australian team who also came travelling around this region. Finally before flying out I headed to Paris and got to spend a couple of days hanging out with my sister and doing tourist stuff. Overall the trip was an unforgettable experience that allowed me to travel, make new friends, and play at the highest level of competition in my sport.