“I like the mental challenge of cricket – it’s not purely a physical sport, it’s both mental and physical and I really enjoy that aspect of it."

Challenging both body and mind is a pursuit not only for Sydney Sixer's cricketer Carly Leeson, but for all UNSW's Ben Lexcen Sports Scholars.

In 1988, thanks to the support of alumni, UNSW was the first Australian university to offer sports scholarships to help students excel at both sporting and academic endeavours.

Since then, donations have continued to grow the prestigious Ben Lexcen Scholarships, which have assisted more than 160 elite student athletes.

This year four UNSW undergraduate students have begun university life with Ben Lexcen Scholarships.

Rugby back Nick Wilkinson, champion sprinter Jessica Thornton, and cricketers Carly Leeson and Declan White have joined the list of elite sporting stars who have chosen to study at UNSW.

Current UNSW students, swimmer Emily Washer, rower Sophie Jerapetritis, 3,000m steeplechase runner Georgia Winkcup and sailing’s Kurt Hansen and James Colley have also been elevated to Ben Lexcen Scholars in 2017.

The scholarships recognise students not just for their outstanding sporting ability but also for their all-round qualities in leadership, community and academia.