Six students and eighteen alumni have recently been selected for the Commonwealth Games 2018 at the Gold Coast in Australia. Ranging from Athletics to Squash, UoB has a very strong representation heading to Australia – and so we thought we’d find out a bit more about them, and even managed to catch a few of them before they left.
4th year Medical student Sarah McDonald will represent Team England in the 1500m at the Games. Sarah first took up running aged 16 when a serious hip injury stopped her from continuing with figure skating, her previous sport. She started running in an effort to regain her fitness after the injury and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Since her transition into athletics Sarah has been aiming to compete at a major games and naturally she is very excited at the prospect of experiencing a multi-sport championship for the first time.
Sarah has trained with the University of Birmingham Athletics Club for the past 4 years and has developed greatly as an athlete during that time due to the support of the Performance team, to whom she is very grateful.
Whilst Sarah’s main focus for the moment is the upcoming Gold Coast Games, she is also looking ahead and aiming for selection for the Birmingham Games in 2022.
“I will be aiming for Birmingham and I’m so excited about being here and being able to compete in front of all my friends and family!”
Iona Lake, a Birmingham Zoology graduate, has been selected to represent England Athletics in the steeplechase. Iona took the British women’s 3000m steeplechase title back in August at the World Championship British Athletics Team Trials after recovering from a long-term injury. This will be her second time representing England at a Commonwealth Games!
Fellow Birmingham graduate, Bethan Partridge, will also be representing England at her second Commonwealth Games. She has been selected for the high jump competition after winning the British Athletics Indoor Team Trials in August. She is hoping to build on her performance in Glasgow, after an injury prevented her from fulfilling her potential back in 2014. Alumna Gemma Bridge will also be representing England in the 20km Race Walk.
Jordan Trebert, a 3rd year Law student, has been selected to represent Guernsey in the badminton team. Jordan first picked up a racket aged 5 and has had his sights set on making it to the 2018 Games since 2014. Jordan has since dedicated much of his time to competing to meet the criteria for selection, travelling every weekend to tournaments all over the country with the University team, for which he currently plays alongside training for the Games.
Jordan says that the new Sport & Fitness Club on campus always provides a good team spirit and a good atmosphere for training.
“I’m very proud of the achievement and excited to train as much as I can in the lead up to the Games.”
Following the Games in 2018, Jordan has his sights set on qualifying for Birmingham 2022 and is excited at the prospect of a home Games.
Elise Dixon, a 1st year Mathematician, has also been selected for the 2018 Games, representing Jersey. Having played badminton since she was 8 years old, Elise has been working towards selection for the CWG for the last 4 years, hoping to be chosen to fill one of the 33 available slots for Team Jersey. She has been playing in qualification tournaments for the last 2 years and thus has devoted a lot of time to ensuring that she made it into the Team heading to the Gold Coast in April. Elise will be competing against and spectating some of the World’s best badminton players – an amazing opportunity for a young player such as herself.
“… it was such a relief to find that all the training and competing had really paid off. I was delighted and excited by my achievement, which makes me even more driven to train hard in the months up to the Games.”
Elise has been playing with the University’s Badminton club since joining in September, finding that the competition is challenging and pushes her as a player, as well as the great access to coaching and support.
Ciara Horne graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2013 with a first class degree in physiotherapy. She has been selected to represent Wales as part of the cycling team. Ciara has previously represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. Keep updated on Ciara’s progress here.
A whopping six out of the sixteen-strong England women’s hockey team heading to Gold Coast are UoB students and alumni. Following her silver success at Glasgow 2014, Lily Owsley MBE was selected to join the team for what would have been her second Commonwealth Games, but devastatingly had to pull out following an injury. Fellow Rio 2016 Team GB teammates Sophie Bray MBE and Ellie Watton have also been selected, as well as alumni Sarah Haycroft, and finally Sport, Physical Education and Coaching Sciences alumni Anna Toman (graduated in 2014), Emily Defroand (2016) and Hannah Martin (2016), for whom it will be their Commonwealth Games debut.
In addition, UoB alumni Bex Condie has been selected to represent Scotland at the Gold Coast. She will also be Vice Captain of the team, which is an amazing achievement. Bex first started playing hockey at secondary school but didn’t start playing in a club side until she was 15, transitioning from football into higher level hockey. Bex was a Sport and Exercise Sciences student from 2008 to 2011, but continued to play for the University in the National League squad after her graduation and even captained the side from 2014-2017. In her 9 years playing for the University she played in 3 BUCS finals, winning two Golds and a Silver – and helping the side progress into the Premier League, in which the club is now consistently in the top four teams year on year.
Bex has been aiming for selection for the Games since joining the squad following Glasgow 2014. Ever since she started playing hockey she has dreamt of representing her country, and so was ecstatic to find her name on the team sheet.
“…I was overwhelmed with emotion, all the hard work, sweat and tears was totally worth it. It truly is a dream come true to represent Scotland at a Commonwealth Games.”
Bex states that much of her success is owed to the support that she received whilst at the University of Birmingham, from the expert coaching of Phil Gooderham (current Head Coach) and the world class training facilities to the support of the Performance team in the areas of strength and conditioning, nutrition, physiology and psychology.
Bex’s sole focus for the time being is heading to the Gold Coast and playing her best hockey for her country. However, she has not ruled out the prospect of Birmingham 2022 and is excited for top-level hockey to be played on home turf.
Second year Sport and Exercise Sciences student and sports scholar, Amy Costello, will also be heading to the Games. She has also been selected to represent Scotland in the hockey team.
Amy first picked up a hockey stick aged 11 and went on to play at school and for her home club Cala Edinburgh Hockey Club until joining the University of Birmingham. She received her first cap for Scotland in February 2016 and has been aiming for Commonwealth Games selection ever since.
“I’m absolutely thrilled, proud, excited and just felt like all the hard work and tough sessions in the gym and on the pitch had paid off.”
Amy has also confirmed that she is definitely hoping to compete in the Birmingham 2022 Games and with the continuing support from the Performance team at UoB she is hoping that this will be a very real prospect.
Hockey scholars Hywel Jones and Delyth Thomas will also be heading to the Games to represent Wales. Delyth is a second year Biological Science student and is an integral member of the women’s hockey scholarship team, and Hywel has been a scholar since enrolling at UoB but only gained his first senior cap for Wales this year, so it is a phenomenal achievement to already be representing his country at the Commonwealth Games. Joining Hywel and Delyth in representing Team Wales are alumni Jonny Gooch, Xenna Hughes, David Kettle and Tina Evans.
Birmingham Lions player Joel Makin will represent Wales in Squash. Joel started his professional squash career in 2014 and has so far won two tournaments on the PSA World Tour. He represented Wales in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and is looking to improve on his performance this year.
Non Stanford, a Sport and Exercise Sciences graduate, will also represent Wales in the triathlon. Non started out as a successful track runner before taking up triathlon at University. She competed in her first Olympics at Rio in 2016 where she finished an impressive 4th and has had considerable success in the triathlon world series. Chris Silver will also be lining up next to Non in the Mixed Triathlon Relay.
We are so proud to have such a large representation at the Games, of both students and alumni. We look forward to following their progress on the Gold Coast in April and wish them the best of luck!