CategoriesStudent News

New year, same scholar success

New year, same sports scholar success  

2024 started with a bang for our outstanding university scholarship athletes and alumni, who have broken in the new year with some incredible performances on the national and international stage, particularly in hockey, netball and cross-country.

Great Britain Men and Women Hockey squads embarked on the road to Paris 2024 after qualifying at the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.


In Spain,  GB Women featuring current EDCAP scholar and social policy student Lily Walker as well as four alumni, Lily Owsley, Anna Toman, Amy Costello and goal-scorer Hannah French closely battled to secure their spot, beating Ireland 2-1, after losing 3-2 to Belgium in the semi-finals.


GB Men secured their spot after beating New Zealand 3-1 to reach the final in Muscat, Oman. The team featured talented alumni Nick Bandurak. Both teams will now prepare for the Olympic Games in just over six months’ time.

EDCAP scholarship athletes and current students Evie Wood, Alice Atkinson and Betsan Thomas have been named in the Women’s GB Elite Development Squad (GB EDP) for 2024, with fellow scholar Harvey Edwards being named as a reserve for the men’s squad.


The programme aims to help junior players smoothly transition to senior international hockey, providing those who have Olympic potential with the support they need. This is an amazing achievement for these players and shows real promise as they look to follow in the footsteps of those named above.


Sunday 28 January was a crucial but exciting day for England Netball as the England Roses played in the Vitality Netball Nations Cup Final in Leeds.


University of Birmingham alumni Fran Williams played in goal defence whilst captaining the team to the final, alongside fellow alumni Ellie Rattu. The Roses put in an incredible performance, but narrowly missed out on the win to the strong team Origin Australian Diamonds.


One week later, the Athletics club came home with a record-breaking medal haul of 13 medals at the BUCS Cross Country Championships. Not only this, but the team won 3 out of the total 4 for both team and individual titles – an exceptional achievement for the team.

Over a gruelling course, EDCAP Scholars Amelia Quirk and Will Barnicoat continued their success from the European Cross Country Championships in December and dominated the field in the Women and Men’s Long Course, bringing home 2 gold medals.


Will was closely followed by fellow scholar Tomer Tarragano and Oliver Smart, in a Birmingham 1-2-3, the first clean sweep on the Podium at BUCS Cross Country in history.

CategoriesAnnouncement Events Student News

Record breaking medal haul at BUCS Cross Country

Record-breaking BUCS Cross Country medal haul  

University of Birmingham Athletics made history with the highest-ever medal haul by any institution at this weekend’s BUCS Cross Country Championships.

The record-breaking weekend saw the Athletics Club beat their 2022 record of ten medals thanks to eight individual medals and five team medals at Temple Newsam in Leeds.


To strengthen their dominance, Birmingham won three of the four team titles with three out of four individual wins available.


The team took its largest ever cohort with 150 competitors across the event supported by staff and alumni.


The Cross County Championships host four races across short and long distance for Men’s and Women’s competitors. In each race, there are individual medals and team medals at stake.

Birmingham post-graduate scholar and GB representative Amelia Quirk claimed her first-ever BUCS title in style, winning her race by a massive 36 seconds.


The Men’s Team completed the first-ever podium sweep at the Championships in BUCS history, with third-year sports scholar Will Barnicoat winning his first ever BUCS individual Gold.


His teammates Tomer Tarragano, a third-year Chemistry undergraduate, and Ollie Smart completed the podium with an unprecedented 1-2-3.


With the Long Distance results contributing to the University’s overall BUCS points, the Athletics Club bought home an 72 points, bettering last year’s haul by 30 points.

Posting on Instagram, Luke Gunn, Head of Performance and Athletics, said: “I couldn’t be prouder of what we produced this weekend!


“This team has a culture where every athlete looks out for their teammates and coaches that continually go above and beyond to make sure each athlete has the best experience.


“This weekend was truly special and one I feel we will be talking about for many years to come!”


See a summary of the results below:


Men’s – Long
Will Barnicoat – GOLD
Tomer Tarragano- SILVER
Ollie Smart – BRONZE
Team – GOLD
+ Tyler Bilyard, Mike Ward & Noah Campion


Women’s – Long
Amelia Quirk – GOLD
+ Elisha Tait, Elsa Palmer & Kate Willis


Men’s – Short
Elliot Moran – SILVER
Sam Burkitt – BRONZE
Team – GOLD
+ Fin Ward & Ethan O’Shea


Women’s – Short
Charlotte Alexander – GOLD
Rosie Hamilton-James – SILVER
Team – GOLD
+ Rose Chesterfield
& Team – BRONZE
+ Freya Stapleton, Zoe Hunter & Hannah Seager


Next up, sports scholars Tomer Tarragano, Tyler Bilyard, Charlotte Alexander and Elsa Palmer will represent Great Britain at the World University Cross Country CHampions in Oman on 17 February, with the BUCS Indoor Championships taking place on 23-25 February in Sheffield.  

CategoriesAnnouncement Student News

Sports Awards 2024 | Save the date this 30 May

Sports Awards 2024 | Save the date 30 May  

The University of Birmingham Sport will celebrate the achievements of its 2023/24 sporting stars at this year’s coveted Sports Awards 2024 taking place on the evening of Thursday 30 May.

Returning once again to the decadence of the Brammall Music Building, athletes, coaches and students can now add the date to their sporting calendar ahead of the annual event.


This year sees 13 categories open for nominations, of which details will be announced in the coming weeks, with the full list of categories including:


Campus League Team of the Year
Coach of the Year (non-student)
Coach of the Year (student)
Club of the Year
Full Blues
Half Blues
National Team of the Year
Outstanding Contribution
ED&I Award
Sport Colours
Sports Person of the Year
Regional Team of the Year
Volunteer of the Year

The Sports Awards 2023 recognised all levels of sporting achievements from our volunteers to our elite athlete scholars.

Standouts included; Athletics scooping Club of the Year for their impressive BUCS points contribution; Hockey Women’s 4s named as Regional Team of the Year for their treble winning season; Cheerleading awarded with Outstanding Contribution supporting wider UOB events; and the Sailing Club acknowledged with the PRIDE Award helping to reduce cost barrier for its members.

Andy Allford, Director of Sport at University of Birmingham, said: “Sport remains a key part of student life for many during their time at Birmingham and it’s important we continue to take the time to celebrate achievements at every level.


“It’s always one of my favourite nights of the year and over the years, we’ve been able to widen the recognition and status of our sporting stars across the University. We’re already looking forward to reading through each nomination and coming together this May to celebrate in style.”

With more than 200 people in attendance last year – including the Vice Chancellor and Principal of University of Birmingham Adam Tickell – we’re hoping to make this year’s event even bigger with a selection of arrival drinks, food options and post-event entertainment.


With a number of guest presenters from roles across the University, keep an eye out across University of Birmingham Sport social media channels and our weekly Sports Desk newsletter – which covers all our BUCS highlights each week – for further details.


Image of Netball girls in a circle with hands in the centreCategoriesAnnouncement Events Member News Student News

UoB to Host the 2023-24 BUCS Conference Finals

UoB to Host 2023-24 BUCS Conference Cup Finals

The University of Birmingham is proud and excited to announce that we have been selected by BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) to host the annual 2023-24 Midlands Conference Cup Finals.


Taking place on Wednesday 6 March, the day will see 14 sports hosted across our exceptional facilities, with the addition of Futsal taking place at Birmingham City University.


Having been selected from multiple institutions, we cannot wait to host this prestigious event for the first time, and provide our student-athletes with the opportunity to play a final on home soil!

Sports to be hosted at UoB at the 2023-24 BUCS Midlands Conference Cup Finals:

  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Netball
  • Rugby League
  • Rugby Union
  • Squash
  • Table Tennis
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

Thanks and congratulations go to the wider UoB Sport team and departments that made this happen; from those that were responsible for creating and submitting the initial application, to those that have supported the idea since it was first mentioned.


We relish any and all opportunities to showcase the amazing work we do here at UoB, and the 2023-24 BUCS Midlands Conference Cup Finals will be no different!


See our full fixture timetable below:


Basketball (M)

Munrow Arena 1, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Basketball (W)

Munrow Arena 1, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Netball (W)

Munrow Arena 1, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Netball (W)

Munrow Arena 1, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Badminton (M)

Munrow Arena 3, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Badminton (W)

Munrow Arena 3, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Volleyball (M)

Munrow Arena 3, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Volleyball (W)

Munrow Arena 3, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Table Tennis (M)

Slater Hall, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Table Tennis (W)

Slater Hall, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Fencing (M)

Slater Hall, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Fencing (W)

Slater Hall, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Squash (M)

Squash Courts, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Squash (W)

Squash Courts, Sport and Fitness, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT


Hockey (M)

Water based synthetics, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Hockey (W)

Water based synthetics, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Hockey (M)

Water based synthetics, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Hockey (W)

Water based synthetics, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Lacrosse (M)

Metchley Grass Pitches, 126 Metchley Ln, Birmingham B17 0JA


Lacrosse (W)

Bournbrook 3G, Bournbrook 3G, Birmingham B15 2GR


Football (M)

Metchley Grass Pitches, 126 Metchley Ln, Birmingham B17 0JA


Football (W)

Bournbrook 3G, Bournbrook 3G, Birmingham B15 2GR


Football (M)

Metchley Grass Pitches, 126 Metchley Ln, Birmingham B17 0JA


Rugby Union (M)

Bournbrook 3G, Bournbrook 3G, Birmingham B15 2GR


Rugby Union (W)

Bournbrook 3G, Bournbrook 3G, Birmingham B15 2GR


Rugby Union (M)

Metchley Grass Pitches, 126 Metchley Ln, Birmingham B17 0JA


Rugby Union (M)

Metchley Grass Pitches, 126 Metchley Ln, Birmingham B17 0JA


Tennis (M)

Tennis Courts, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Tennis (W)

Tennis Courts, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Tennis (M)

Tennis Courts, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Tennis (W)

Tennis Courts, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT


Golf (Mixed)

Edgbaston Golf Club, 25 Church Rd, Birmingham B15 3TB


Futsal (M)

Doug Ellis, BCU


Futsal (W)

Doug Ellis, BCU




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)

Hockey players on pitchCategoriesAnnouncement Member News Student News

UoB Dual Career Accreditation Renewed


We continue to lead the way in dual career support to high performance athletes in education, after having our Dual Career Accreditation successfully renewed for the third year.


The TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme recognises and promotes an education institution’s commitment to providing comprehensive dual career support for high performance student-athletes and acknowledges an enhanced level of academic flexibility and understanding within an institution.

Accredited sites are awarded on their ability to support talented sportspeople find and manage the optimum balance between their – often hectic and challenging – sport and academic schedules, to maximise their potential and gain success in both.

Referenced within Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s “Duty of Care in Sport” review (published in April 2017), the Accreditation evidences that a college or University has the ability to support students following a dual career route. In support of the scheme, she said:

“I believe we have a duty to help young people to achieve their potential, whilst prioritising their welfare, wellbeing and education. For me, the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme is a vitally important measure to ensuring all athletes have the chance to pursue an education and enjoy a more well-rounded approach to life.”

This accreditation directly aligns with our objective of maintaining our position as one of the leading destinations of choice for dual career success and we are incredibly proud to have retained this prestigious status for the third year running.


Depending on the circumstances, this may mean that student-athletes supported by our Elite Dual Career Athlete Pathway (EDCAP) sport scholarship programme have increased opportunity to be considered for further academic flexibility, from access to online notes and/or resources, to deadline extensions and rescheduled exams.


In addition to this, the accreditation supports the creation and maintenance of the huge number of collaborative partnerships that currently exist across the University between academic and sport personnel.

Current EDCAP Scholar Yasmin Javadian (above) says:


“Without the incredible dual career support provided at UoB, I don’t think I would have ever been able to successfully balance my full-time Dentistry degree alongside becoming a 2022 Commonwealth Games medallist – as far as I’m concerned, the support I’ve gained through both my course and the EDCAP programme is second to none and I’ll always be grateful that I’ve had access to it throughout such a vital time in my competitive career.”

Sport Scholarships Manager Hugh Sproston says:


“We’re incredibly proud to have our accredited status renewed. The ever-rising standard of our sport scholars comes hand in hand with increased demands to somehow balance full-time education with elite sport. This accreditation demonstrates the Unviersity’s commitment to dual career support for our student-athletes, supporting them to excel both academically and within their sport. This is never more relevant than in an academic year leading into an Olympics, and we hope to see a number of current students competing in Paris, along with a host of alumni!”



TASS’ National Director Guy Taylor says:


“Dual career support is at the forefront of what TASS does and that’s why the Accreditation Scheme is so important for us in recognising those institutions who place precedence on their athletes’ education too. We hope that the academic flexibility policies put into place for the Accreditation will begin to develop an effective and lasting dual career structure within each institution.”

CategoriesAnnouncement Events Member News Student News

All Things Archon


Whether you’re a regular gym-goer or just beginning your fitness journey, Archon’s ‘The Fittest – Universities’ offers the perfect opportunity to discover your potential, set personal benchmarks and witness your progress soar over nine action-packed months.


Archon created the first ever rating for fitness (AFR), allowing everyone to understand their fitness and what it could mean for them in the future. Creating a universal fitness rating means that everyone has the ability to see how fit they are and, once armed with that information, what that could possibly lead to.

No matter where you’re currently at in your fitness journey, Archon’s unique challenge is open to all UoB students between October 2023 and June 2024, enabling you to ignite your workouts and participate in an epic array of monthly, gym-based engagements, each tailored to push your endurance, strength and power. It’s completely free to take part and you are welcome to tackle each challenge at your own pace in any gym!

As you conquer each task, just enter your scores onto the Archon web app from your smart device and let it intuitively convert your scores into fitness ratings, providing a streamlined method for you to monitor and map out your progression throughout this exciting journey.

With a unique rating system based on your own individual metrics, everyone is rated fairly. You might be interested in testing your existing limits, or perhaps you’re using this as a stepping stone to kick-start a more active lifestyle. Either way, Archon is here to guide and motivate you every step of the way.

Registration for The Fittest – Universities is now OPEN, providing you with the chance to be a part of something huge: to represent the University of Birmingham at the live Championships in June 2024 and be in with a shot of claiming the coveted title of ‘The Fittest Student’.

It’s time to commit to your fitness goals, make them happen and have some fun along the way: secure your spot by registering here today and get ready to show the world what you’re made of!

For more information, feel free to reach out to a member of the Sport & Fitness or Tiverton Gym teams.

The Launch Event – You Are Invited!

The first LIVE engagement will be taking place locally later this month and 112 students are invited to enter a free ballot to be selected to attend and complete the first phase of the rating. All details below:


Date: Friday 27 October 2023
Venue: Gymshark Lifting Club, Solihull B90 8AW
Guest Privilege: Every student selected is welcome to bring along one spectator for support!
Participation: No costs involved; it’s all about the experience!
Engagement Details: A full day of excitement, where participants will initiate the first phase of the FITTEST rating live.
Transportation: Participants will need to arrange their own travel.


In order to be in with a chance of being selected to attend, please first register via the button above. Once registered, fill out the following ballot entry form to secure your potential spot for the live event:

See you at the start line!

CategoriesCampaign Events Member News Psychology Student News

World Mental Health Day 2023


Tuesday 10 October is World Mental Health Day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that despite good mental health being vital to our overall health and wellbeing, one in eight people globally are living with mental health conditions. These impact an individual’s physical health, wellbeing and how they connect with others, as well as their livelihoods. Mental health conditions are also affecting an increased number of adolescents and young people in particular.

In line with WHO, the University of Birmingham is committed to ensuring mental health is valued, promoted and protected throughout its communities. We are part of the Government’s Mental Health Mission, designed to develop radical new treatments for mental health conditions and improve the outcomes and care for young people with mental health problems.

From a Sport & Fitness perspective specifically, we not only ensure that a number of our staff are Mental Health and Suicide First Aid trained, but also collectively endeavour to provide ample and varied opportunities for our students, staff and members to access support, and to participate in sport and fitness at any level to improve and/or maintain their overall wellbeing.

In honour of this year’s World Mental Health Day, we caught up with two of our in-house Performance Sport experts that specifically work with the University’s highest performing and elite student-athletes, to gather some guidance and insight to how we can best prioritise and take care of our own mental health this October and beyond, whilst also equipping us with the necessary skills to support those close to us that may, at times, need it.


Dr Sue Jones

University of Birmingham Sport Psychologist

Joanna Eley

University of Birmingham Sport Performance Lifestyle Lead

Sue Says...

“Throughout my work I apply a ‘Person First’ approach. A person’s chosen physical activity is just one piece of their story and identity. Maintaining a healthy relationship with sport is key to long term mental health and wellbeing, but sport rarely follows a linear path to success, so it’s important to focus on the process building, not just outcomes. The scales between performance and wellbeing can change very quickly, so the better you connect with a someone’s story, the quicker you can react to those changes and empower them to notice these changes themselves.”

Jo Says...

“While the goal should ideally be to experience high mental health so that individuals can flourish, the majority of people actually just sit somewhere in the moderate mental health scale day-to-day and the main focus tends to be on not experiencing low mental health or mental illness. As a result of this focus, much of the support available tends to be reactive-geared and problem-focused, however the optimum mental health requires a much more proactive approach and an understanding of the different dimensions that can have an impact on your mental health. Being aware of what high mental health looks like for you, the strategies that support that and reducing the barriers to delivering those strategies is something I strive to support high performance individuals achieve.”

Sue and Jo's Top Tips

  1. Journal
    Recognise how you think and behave in positive times so that you can spot any changes in yourself and/or identify any certain triggers for future reference. Journalling is a good way to do this.
  2. Periods of non-ideal mental health are exactly the same as niggles and injuries and therefore should be treated as such. That mean you need to adapt your training or usual routine, in order to prioritise and recover.
  3. Be proactive
    Where possible, keep active, maintain balanced eating habits, maintain self-care and hygiene, regulate sleeping habits, be sociable – even in times where you don’t feel fully up to it, these will help to keep the brain and body healthy.
  4. Be self-compassionate
    If you’re finding something hard, it’s probably because it is hard! It’s much easier to process and move through your feeling if you can acknowledge and accept them.
  5. Build your system
    Slowly over time aim to build and maintain day-to-day/week-by-week processes that facilitate the best mental health outcomes for you. This will help you identify stressors and aid you in working how best to create boundaries and strategies that reduce these stressors that contribute to lower mental health.
  6. Talk to others
    The more you talk to others about general things, the easier it will be to seek support for the more difficult topics.
  7. Supporting others
    Practice empathy and validate their experience(s) by being willing to see their perspective, refraining from judgement, accepting how they are feeling and welcoming conversation.



To celebrate this year’s World Mental Health Day, Sport & Fitness will be running a FREE Stretch & Relaxation class, taking place 8:30-9:15am in the Dojo.


Bookable now via the Sport & Fitness app under ‘Classes’ and open to everyone in the midst of another busy week, we hope this provides the chance for you to take some well-deserved time for yourself.

Scholar Ollie Morgan performing the backstroke, arm out of the water wearing a red hat.CategoriesStudent News

Five Minutes With: Oliver Morgan

Five minutes with: Oliver Morgan

From BUCS medals and breaking UoB Club Records, to completing the backstroke treble at the British Championships and competing for Great Britain against the best in the world, 2023 has been a year to remember for current Sport, Physical Education and Coaching Sciences student and Elite Sport Scholar Ollie Morgan.

Following his incredible debut at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka (Japan) in August – in which Ollie placed 9th in both the 100m and 200m backstroke, as well as 5th in the Medley Relay – Ollie has since been identified for further support from British Swimming as part of their World Class Performance Pathway, and secured his place as ‘One to Watch’ going forward.

Ollie Morgan in the pool looking up at the camera. Wearing a swimming hat and goggles.

We caught up with Ollie to hear more about his breakthrough year, how he manages to balance his studies alongside elite sport and what he’s got his sights set on next.

Q: It’s safe to say that the 2022-23 season has been the biggest of your career so far; what do you put this progression and success down to?


A: I’ve had a lot of progression whilst being at the University of Birmingham and I think it’s got to come down to the team that we’ve built around me. Whether it be strength & conditioning, Gary [Coach and Head of Swimming at UoB], or through things like physio, sports massage, nutrition, psychology…and being supported to manage my studies alongside swimming this year through being a scholar. The level that we’ve reached has been a lot higher due to the fact that I’ve got that excellent team around me to help support me and my needs.

Q: If you could sum up your debut World Championships’ experience in 3 words, what words would you choose?


A: I think I’ve got to go with: AMAZING first of all. It was just an incredible experience to be there and be part of that GB team. I think the next one has got to be MOTIVATING – going there, being so close to making those individual finals and also being so close to making the medals in the relay was so motivating, especially moving into next year where we’ve got the Olympic Games. It’s just going to help motivate me through next season and again if I make another World Championships. Making those finals was a big thing. I think the last word has got to be FUN. It was just such good fun to be out there racing the top guys in the world and to come away with the performances that I did.

Q: As well as the competition itself, what was your experience of Japan whilst you were there?


A: Being in Japan for a World Championships was incredible and the country itself was too. It was such a different experience to being over here in the UK, but you know, everyone was so friendly – the local community all came together. For example, when we were in Kagoshima for our camp, they were so welcoming – they gave us loads of free gifts and things and yeah, just welcomed us into the community and hopefully we’ll be able to go back at some point. It really was just incredible.

Q: What – if anything – has changed for you following your performances at the World Championships?


A: Following my performances at the World Championships, nothing really has changed – the mindset is still there. You know, I’m still so hungry to move forward and get back into training. I didn’t really have much time off over summer, I had a maybe a week of no training, but I was just so hungry to get back into it! The main change going forward is the amount of support I now have access to from British Swimming as part of their World Class Performance Programme, which is only going to strengthen my set up further as they work alongside my University support team.

Q: How do you feel your time at the University of Birmingham so far – and especially your time working with the Performance Centre practitioners as part of your elite sport scholarship – has helped you progress to the level at which you are competing now?


A: Being a part of the scholarship program has been so beneficial to me. I think I’ve delved into a lot of support with, you know, physios, S&C, nutrition, psychology, performance lifestyle…everything. I think it’s really helped me move to that next step in my career where now I’m competing on an international stage and representing Great Britain. I think it’s really helped me to have that personalised program and having people around me that can support my needs, and also look into things like injury prevention and what I can do in my diet, for instance, to really boost my performance.

Q: How do you manage to balance your studies alongside training and competing at an elite standard?


A: Being a student-athlete at the University of Birmingham has been amazing for me so far and balancing my studies alongside my swimming has been really quite straightforward, if I’m honest. Everyone around me, the course Wellbeing Team as well, have been so supportive and helpful in helping me sort out extensions for if I have competitions on during deadlines and it’s really helped take that pressure off of me and keep myself organised.

Q: What do you love most about being a part of the University’s Swimming Club?


A: There are so many things I love about being a part of the University of Birmingham Swim Club. I think one of the main things is the relationship that we all have together and the fact that we turn up to training and have a good time. I don’t think there’s anything better than being able to go to training knowing that it’s going to be fun and you’re going to enjoy it. And the fact that everyone’s there to push themselves and be able to push you to that next level. But also I think the relationship that I have with Gary; how we train and how we push ourselves is really, really good, which I can honestly say has made me the swimmer that I am today.

Q: After such a huge year in terms of your progression, what will you be setting your sights on in 2024?


A: Moving forward into next season after a big year of competing, my number one goal is to make the Olympic team. I want to be a part of that team, make my first Olympic Games, and for it to only be in Paris, you know, it’s probably one of the closest we can get to our home games in the future.


And I think moving forward as well, I really want to be able to push my limits in the 100/200 and be a part of both of those at the Olympic Games. Hopefully get a medal or even, well, a gold medal in the medley relay with the other guys. To be able to break the British record in the hundred is definitely a big goal of mine too.

What They Said…

From an overall training perspective, the primary goal for Ollie and his team (including Head Coach Gary Humpage, Strength and Conditioning Coach Vasil Todorov, Performance Nutritionist Rachel Chesters, Performance Lifestyle Coach Joanna Eley and Physiotherapist Mike Gosling) was – and continues to be – to improve his overall swimming performance by seeking out small wins available in both his training and lifestyle. The practitioners work closely and collaboratively to ensure every intervention put in place is both relevant and beneficial to Ollie’s performance in the pool.

I worked closely with Ollie both on the run up to the British Championships and the Worlds. We monitored his weight and body composition to make sure he was hitting the numbers he competes well at and ensuring he didn’t drop to race weight too quickly. Some of his nutrition support was focussed around travelling and immunity, but a lot of work was put into ensuring his race day fuelling strategy was optimal for him”Rachel Chesters, UoB Lead Performance Nutritionist

The aim was – and continues to be – to ultimately improve Ollie’s physical capacities to perform better in the water. We achieved this by breaking down the key components of his stroke, to identify strengths and areas for development we could work on within the gym and pool environments. This is an ongoing project – with 2023 being a successful year for Ollie, it is Paris 2024 in which we would hope to see these improvements really show!” – Vasil Todorov, UoB Strength and Conditioning Coach