CategoriesAnnouncement Member News Student News

Scholars Stun During Action-Packed Weekend

Scholars Stun During Action-Packed Weekend

Whilst the majority of us are winding down for Christmas, our incredible University performance athletes continue to compete and succeed, both on international and domestic stages.

 

The weekend of 9-10 December especially saw a huge number of UoB student-athletes shine, spearheaded by third year Mechanical Engineering student and Elite Scholar Will Barnicoat.

 

Will (pictured above and on the left below, credit: Clay Shaw 2023) produced a perfectly executed race through the mud at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels to claim his second consecutive title and significantly contribute to British Athletics’ most successful outing at the event ever, despite moving up an age category.  

Will said: “It feels surreal to have claimed a gold medal in a new age category, I honestly couldn’t believe it when I crossed the line. It feels great to have set it in stone that I can turn up to major events and collect medals on a regular basis.”

 

“My preparation in the lead up to the race was great and the UoB EDCAP scholarship programme has played a key role in my progression and success throughout. From S+C and Physiotherapy to Performance Lifestyle and Nutrition, it’s really helped me get to where I am now.”

In addition to Will’s individual gold, all four of the UoB representatives (Tomer Tarragano, Amelia Quirk (pictured left) and Zoe Hunter) came home with a Team Gold in the U23 Men’s, Senior Women’s and U20 Women’s categories respectively.

 

This can only mean extremely exciting things ahead of the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Cross Country Championships in February 2024, where the UoB Athletics Club will be looking to retain their Women’s Team title and go one better than their Men’s Team Silver from 2023.

On the other side of Europe in Bucharest, the British Swimming team – featuring triple British Champion Ollie Morgan – made history at the European Short Course Championships, as they finished top of the medal table for the first time.

 

Coached by the University’s very own Head of Swimming Gary Humpage, Ollie added to British Swimming’s impressive medal tally by claiming his first international medal – and the first of its kind for the University too – in the 4×50 Medley Relay, where the Great Britain team finished second.

With the addition of making the final of the 50m Backstroke and only narrowly missing out on spots in both the 100 and 200 finals, as well as continuing to improve on his personal best times across all three distances, the event provided a fitting conclusion to an absolutely phenomenal year of performances and progression for Ollie.

 

Ollie says: “It was amazing to be a part of another medley relay team, this time at a short course competition, which isn’t the strongest part of my competitive season. I was able to pull off a great swim and it fills me with pride to be a part of a record-breaking British Swimming team, as well as to get my hands on my first piece of international silverware!”

 

Whilst Ollie awaits the results of his nominations for the 2023 Propulsion Swimming ‘British Breakthrough Swimmer’ and ‘Most Improved British Swimmer’ awards, we already can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for him!

University Elite Scholars Evie Wood (pictured below left) and Alice Atkinson competed for England at the FIH Women’s Junior World Cup in Chile, where they narrowly missed out on retaining their place on the podium from 2022. The team placed 4th after losing to Germany in the bronze medal match.

 

The University of Birmingham’s affiliation to success on the international hockey stage remains as strong as ever, as honourable mentions must also go to current Social Policy student and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lily Walker, who despite being selected to play alongside Evie and Alice at the Junior World Cup, instead played in Argentina as part of the Great Britain Senior Women’s squad in the first round of the 2023-24 FIH Pro League.

Lily played alongside alumna Lily Owsley (pictured below right) who achieved her 100th GB Cap during the series – a phenomenal feat for the 29-year old UoB Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences graduate. The Argentina Pro League also saw fellow alumnus Nick Bandurak achieve his 50th combined cap.

Medals and podium places were also won on the domestic stages across the same weekend by a handful of the University’s high-performing student-athletes.

 

At the BUCS Individual Squash Championships, the University of Birmingham and its Squash Club were delighted to have 2 atop the men’s podium. Moustafa El Sirty (below left) claimed his debut BUCS title after producing quite the comeback in the final, whilst Will Salter (below right) emphatically won the bronze medal. Hana Ismail placed a fine fourth in the Women’s competition.

 

Fellow scholar and last year’s BUCS Individuals champion Elliot Morris-Devred was absent from the tournament as he competes for Wales at the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championships, currently ongoing in Tauranga, New Zealand. Wales have currently qualified top of their group for the quarter finals after commanding victories against the host nation, Republic of Korea and, most recently, Czech Republic.

We had three scholarship representatives present at the British Senior and Junior Judo Championships, all of whom came away with medals.

 

First year Biological Sciences student Summer Shaw (pictured second from the left below) was crowned the champion in both the junior and senior -48kg competitions, whilst fellow scholars Lachlan Moorhead and Ben Levy won the silver medals in the senior -81kg and junior -73kg categories respectively.

To conclude an incredible array of performances and results from just one single weekend, at the British Rowing Indoor Championships – an event that was hosted in Birmingham in conjunction with FitFest 2023 and saw numerous British and World Rowing Records broken – the University’s very own Katie Mole made the home crowd proud as she claimed the Women’s 2000m gold.

 

After such a high volume of success in a relatively short amount of time, recognition and applause must go not only to the athletes themselves, but their coaches and the University practitioners and personnel that provide tailored and unwavering support throughout all aspects of our student-athletes’ lives. 

CategoriesMember News Student News

Five Minutes With: Evie Wood

Five Minutes With: Evie Wood

Third year Geology student and UoB Elite Sport Scholar Evie Wood is no stranger to the international hockey stage. A long-time member of the Great Britain Elite Development Programme (GB EDP) and having starred in the 2022 England squad that secured a historic bronze medal at the 2022 Junior World Cup, Evie has returned to the squad for this year’s FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup, this time as Co-Captain. First year sport scholar Alice Atkinson (pictured with Evie below) also features in the squad.

 

We caught up with Evie before she travelled to Chile for the tournament – where England have qualified for the quarter-finals after topping their pool – to find out what it is about international hockey that she enjoys so much, how she prepared for the tournament before travelling and what she believes sets Birmingham apart from other universities.

Q: Last year you were part of the history-making, bronze medal-winning England squad at the Junior World Cup. This year, you’ve been named as Co-Captain. What are you most excited about this year’s tournament?

Firstly, I’m really excited to play in Santiago. The venue looks amazing and I haven’t been to Chile before so looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere and culture there.

 

Secondly, in tournaments such as the Junior World Cup you come across teams from all continents. In our pool we play New Zealand, Japan and USA which are all teams we rarely get to play, so it’s an exciting challenge to compete against these different styles of hockey. 

 

Q: What do you love most about playing international hockey?

I love both the performance aspect and the travel that comes with international hockey. Playing high level, pressured games is exciting, and to be able to play these games all around the world is what makes it different to your club games. 

 

Q: How – if at all – has your training regime changed over the last couple of months, in preparation for travelling to Chile?

On pitch, we have been training weekly with the England U21 squad. In August, we also played in a Four Nations tournament in Germany where we competed against the German, Indian and Spanish U21 squads.

 

Since Chile will be much warmer than England in December, we have been prepping off pitch in the heat chamber (pictured below) and sauna at the University to get some heat acclimation in before we arrive.

Q: How do you cope with balancing elite-level hockey and international competition, alongside your academic studies?

I’m currently in my third year at UoB studying Geology. I decided to split my third year (complete it over two years instead of one) which has given me more time to train and focus on the Junior World Cup, whilst also completing my degree alongside this. Over the last two years, my lecturers have been really accommodating of my hockey commitments and I have had regular meetings with both my academic tutors and the Scholarships Team at Birmingham to help me manage both work and hockey load. 

 

Q: How has the EDCAP programme supported your development as an elite-level hockey player?

The range and the level of support we can access through the UoB EDCAP scholarship programme, I believe, is unmatched and has made a huge impact on my development as an athlete. Having strength and conditioning coaching three times a week, along with physiotherapy, nutrition and lifestyle support available helps me become a more well-rounded athlete both on and off the pitch. 

Q: Why would you recommend UoB to aspiring hockey players?

The most important thing for me is the team culture and I feel that the whole hockey club at Birmingham creates an environment where everyone feels welcome. This alongside the amazing facilities and the high level of coaching is what I believe sets Birmingham apart from other universities.

 

Q: Looking ahead, what is next on the cards for you after the Junior World Cup has finished?

After the Junior World Cup I’ll no longer be eligible for the U21s, so am looking forward to developing within the GB EDP environment and then senior squad trials at the end of next year.

What They Said…

“As part of her preparations for the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup in Santiago (Chile), where temperatures regularly exceed 30 degrees Celsius, EDCAP scholar and Goalkeeper Evie Wood followed a heat acclimation protocol, drawn up by myself and fellow UoB Sport Physiologist Dan Lothian.

 

Evie completed weekly bike sessions in the University’s environmental “heat” chamber, supplemented with regular post-exercise sauna bathing as a practical alternative, allowing her to maintain her usual hockey-specific training alongside this. 

 

Exposure to these environments drives a number of key physiological and thermoregulatory responses, resulting in a lower core temperature, heart rate and perception of effort, as well as an increased sweat rate and thermal comfort, to name but a few. All of this meant that Evie was well-equipped and ready to take on that Chilean heat!”

 

– Dave Sheldon, UoB Sport Physiology Lead (left)

CategoriesMember News Student News

Five Minutes With: Andrew Stamp

Five Minutes With: Andrew Stamp

Biological Sciences student, Elite Sport Scholar, 2023 BUCS Champion and British Gymnastics’ World Class Performance Programme star Andrew Stamp made history at the Trampoline World Championships in 2022, recording the highest-placed finish of a British male in the Olympic era and becoming Team All-Around Champion.

 

Now, with the 2023 World Championships also under his belt – in which Andrew led the Men’s Trampoline team to a bronze medal, the first in this category since 1992 – and the countdown to Paris 2024 well and truly on, we caught up with Andrew to find out how he manages to balance his University of Birmingham degree alongside elite sport, whilst also keeping his focus on Olympic qualification.

Q: How did you get into Trampoline Gymnastics and what do you enjoy most about it?

 

I first started gymnastics when I was four or five years old and then transitioned into Trampoline Gymnastics when I was 11. I think my parents always just wanted me to go and burn energy because I was always such a hyper kid, but to me, the best thing about trampolining is the feeling of floating through the air. I’ve never done anything that’s kind of replicated that, or even got close to it.

Q: How do you think being a sport scholar on the EDCAP Elite programme has supported your progression to date?

 

The EDCAP scholarship has been massively important for me, especially to help me balance my studies and training. It’s allowed me to go part-time with my studies, so that I can focus on training when I need to whilst not sacrificing my degree.

Q: You’re now mid-way through your academic course – how do you find balancing these demands alongside elite sport?

 

Balancing a degree and training is definitely a challenge, especially with my training not being centralised here in Birmingham. But the Scholarship team has definitely helped me organise my time and organise my skills so that it’s possible. They’ve helped me realise that it really is possible to do both.

 

Q: What advice would you give to a student-athlete looking to pursue elite sport alongside their academics?

 

Definitely do it! Although  sport is our entire world, it won’t last forever unfortunately so it’s best not to see getting a degree as a plan B or a fall-back. It’s part of the journey and it’s going to set you up well after school and even during school for future careers and development.

Q: What did it mean to win BUCS Individual and Team Gold for UoB last year?

 

The competition was a really fun competition to do, actually. With it being held in Birmingham just over the road was ideal, and to represent and come away with two gold medals to give back to the University and Performance Sport Department after all they’ve done for me…it was really nice.

 

Q: What does a typical training week look like for you?

 

My training is broken down into what we call ‘Jump’ sessions or ‘Tramp’ sessions, which is time actually spent on the trampoline, practicing and honing the skills. These are supplemented with strength sessions – which work on increasing and improving overall power, so that we can jump higher, perform bigger scales –  but also with conditioning, which is more like bodyweight exercises for injury-prevention. Conditioning tends to be focused around core, back, ankles… basically our joints, to make sure that we’re working all the ligaments and making sure they’re robust enough that when we hit a trampoline, we’re going to bounce back up and not just crumble!

Q: How do you feel your preparation for this year’s World Championships went for you?

 

My preparation for the World Championships went really well. We spent three weeks with the team at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall, just practicing, trying to master those 1%’s. This year, we’ve done a lot of international competitions, which I think has helped really prepare me and the rest of the team for the big stages. Like, how to approach competition and how to get the best out of yourself on the day, which I feel really benefitted my preparation for the World Champs.

 

Q: How do you feel the 2023 World Championships went for you personally?

 

For me, the World Championships was a bit of a mixed one. I performed some good routines, but unfortunately just not quite at the right time. Ultimately though, if you’re walking away with two Championship medals (Men’s Trampoline Team and the All-Around Team) it definitely can’t be classed as a ‘bad competition’. I’m just taking away some improvements I need to make and some new focuses in training to work on before the next one.

 

Q: How have the results you achieved during this time inspired/motivated you for this season so far, and your future goals?

 

So this year, we’ve done a series of three cuts out of five so far, plus the World Championships, which are all a part of the qualification process for the Olympic Games and I’ve ultimately been collecting points and gradually moving up the leaderboard. My achievements and performances to date definitely motivate me to keep pushing for the Olympics – it’s becoming more real…the goal is getting closer and closer. So it’s definitely motivational to have that within reach and to be able to keep pushing for it.

What They Said…

As part of his Elite Dual Career Athlete Pathway (EDCAP) sport scholarship, Andrew works closely with Jo to ensure he is well-equipped to find and manage the balance between his demands, so that he can maximise his potential across all areas, without having to sacrifice one for another.

 

“The key focus with Andrew is making sure he feels able to achieve his best, both on the trampoline and in his academic course. We have been able to facilitate this by accessing academic flexibility which is available to EDCAP scholars through the Wellbeing Team in his college. More time to complete assessments means Andrew doesn’t need to take valuable time away from training and sleep, but is still able to commit the necessary time to deliver the standard of work he is happy with. Also, being able to ensure no assessments clash with his competitions means he is able to focus on delivering his best performance with no distractions.”

 

– Joanna Eley, UoB Sport Performance Lifestyle Lead