It was with some considerable excitement that I arrived at the Sports Scholarship Induction Evening last Thursday. In my role as High Performance Sport Manager at UEL I had already meet a few of the scholars, but had only communicated with the remainder of the successful recipients via email. I already knew the impressive list of achievements of the 2011-2012 UEL Sports Scholars, but I was excited about meeting the people behind the European and World Medallists, seeing what made them tick, and sharing in their enthusiasm for the year ahead.
One thing that I’ve learned from working with high performance sportspeople over the past 10 years is that they are refreshingly human, and despite their successes and people’s perceptions of them, they tend to be incredibly humble. This bunch of sports scholars didn’t disappoint, and the interaction between the accomplished senior internationals and the junior talent aspiring for greatness was heartwarming.
After being presented with their scholarship from UEL Pro Vice-Chancellor Selena Bolingbroke, the scholars and their coaches had the opportunity to interact and bond as a group over the one of the world’s most difficult quizzes which tested their knowledge of geography, science, mathematics and history, and included a generous collection of sporting questions. While some of the knowledge was impressive, I think it’s fair to say that these scholars display their true talents in the sporting arena.
The coming Olympic year will provide a huge opportunities for many of our scholars. For some it will mean Olympic selection and the opportunity to compete in a home Olympics; for others, the inevitable post-Olympic retirements will open the door to Rio and 2016. There will be disappointments, surprises, and unpredicted successes, but for sure it will be an exciting year. Over the coming months, we hope to feature the scholars and their successes. Rhiannon Jones, one of our rowing scholars will blogging for us regularly, and we will also be running a series of blogs targeted at high performance athletes who wish to maximise their potential and strike a balance between their sport and their studies.