Luke Zeliff is a speed skater who was awarded a Tier 3 Scholarship within the 2024 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship & Mentoring Program.
Luke’s love of speedskating developed at 8 years old after he attended a friend’s birthday party at the local roller-skating rink. Shortly after Luke took up inline speedskating, representing Victoria at three Australian Championships, before deciding to try out short track ice speedskating at aged 11. Six months later he won his age division at the Australian Open Short Track Championships.
However, Luke always knew his path would be long track speedskating. Standing at 190cm, he is too tall for short track speedskating, so as soon as the Australian borders opened from the pandemic, Luke headed off to The Netherlands to train with the best in the world at long track. His first race was after only two weeks of training, where he set an Australian age division record.
Luke was awarded an International Skating Union Junior Skater Scholarship for the 2022/23 skating season which enabled him to spend four weeks training at the Dutch Centre of Excellence in Heerenveen during the school holidays. After just another two weeks of training, not only did Luke set more Australian age division records, but he also qualified for Junior World Cups (JWC) 1 & 2.
In late 2022, Luke competed at JWC 1 & 2 in Finland where he raced three distances and the mass start. It was Luke’s first experience of racing on an outdoor rink, which included rain, sleet and snow! He also qualified for the JWC Final in Germany, which he competed at in early 2023.
Luke was the first Australian to be invited to the Viking Race in the Netherlands, also unofficially known as the European youth championships. Luke broke all his previous Australian age division records, setting another five during the race meet. Overall he finished 20th.
For the 2022/23 skating season, Luke set 19 Australian age division records and also held the fastest 500m time for an Australia, junior or senior, for the season.
Luke completed in Canada in August 2023 and achieved four new personal bests, set a new Australian Junior Record for the 1500m, and qualified for Junior World Championships to be held in Japan in 2024.
Luke was recently honoured when The Front Campaign, the first worldwide campaign to stop bullying in sports, selected him as an ambassador.
When he’s home, Luke trains in short track speedskating, off ice and gym work, along with track cycling and inline speedskating.
Luke is looking forward to moving overseas once he finishes school and competing at JWC 1 & 2 in Italy in late 2023 and JWC Final and Championships in Japan in early 2024.
“I am honoured and humbled to be awarded a SAHOF Tier 3 Scholarship. I spend a large portion of my year training and competing overseas as there is no long track speedskating venue in the southern hemisphere. The funding provided by the Scholarship will help me greatly with the financial costs of this and allow me to focus on my sport” – Luke Zeliff on being selected as a 2024 Tier 3 Scholarship Holder
Honours & Achievements
- 2023 Junior Viking Race – 20th
- 2023 Junior World Cup Final – 35th
- 2022 Junior World Cup 2 – 29th
- 2022 Junior World Cup 1 – 29th
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Photo Credit – @sportfotografie_schaatsen