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Badminton champ off overseas

2 September 2013

Badminton champ off overseas

As his study comes to an end, Michael Fowke is about to take up work and sporting opportunities on the other side of the world that have opened up as a result of his time at the University of Waikato.

In mid-September, the Hillary Scholar and badminton star heads to the Netherlands to work with agriculture and horticulture research company BLGG in Wageningen. The company uses ADAMS - Advanced Data mining And Machine Learning System - software developed at the University. Michael will finish the final course-work for his degree, a Bachelor of Engineering specialising in software, while he is overseas.

Michael had previously been awarded two summer research scholarships in the Computer Science Department working with the ADAMS software, and it was this experience that has helped pave the way to the job at BLGG.

“I feel very lucky. Everything’s coming together perfectly,” he says. “The best thing about being a Hillary Scholar is that I haven’t had to choose study over sport, I was able to do both.”

Michael says his biggest achievement in badminton to date is winning the men’s singles final at the National Badminton Championships in Auckland earlier this year, taking down his coach and top seed T J Weistra for the first time.

Weistra is a former Dutch international and world senior title winner, and has been Michael’s coach for as long as Michael can remember. It is through Weistra that contact has been made with badminton club BC Amersfoort, where Michael will play while he is in the Netherlands.

The former Hillcrest High School student is looking forward to playing badminton in Europe “where the competition is taken very seriously”. He sees playing the European season as the perfect lead-up for a shot at representing New Zealand in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships are the University of Waikato’s most prestigious scholarships and are awarded to students who are high academic achievers who are also achieving in the arts or sport. Scholars have their course fees covered, receive specialist coaching and mentoring and take part in personal development and leadership programmes.


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