Posted on 29/11/2012
Elite student athletes at Royal Holloway followed in the footsteps of Olympic rower Jessica Eddie and Paralympic champion Sophie Christiansen last night when they were made members of the Student Talented Athlete Recognition Scheme (STARS) during a special awards ceremony.
Twenty-five awardees including Thomas Smallbone, a Geography student and professional rugby player with London Irish, and fencer Acland Bryant, who is studying Mathematics and is a hopeful for the 2016 Olympics, received bursaries to help them achieve their full potential.
The ceremony also saw five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave awarded an Honorary Degree in recognition of his outstanding sporting achievements.
Kicking off the event, Professor Paul Layzell, Principal of Royal Holloway, expressed his pride in the college’s role as a Rowing and Canoe Village in delivering a successful Olympics and wished the STARS awardees the best of luck in their chosen sports.
Alumni Sophie Christiansen and Jessica Eddie spoke about their magical experiences at London 2012 before Mark Hyndman, Sports Development Executive at Royal Holloway, handed out Sophie’s three gold medals for the audience to hold. Mark then invited the STARS awardees to collect their certificates from Sophie and Jessica and spoke to each of them about their achievements and aspirations.
The event then moved onto the Honorary Degree ceremony and Professor Boris Rankov, from the Department of Classics and Philosophy, spoke about the outstanding contribution Sir Steve Redgrave has made to sport.
Sir Steve, who played a pivotal role in delivering the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics bid, addressed Royal Holloway’s future sports stars in his speech, offering them inspirational advice in their quest for sporting glory.
“The Olympics and Paralympics were just absolutely amazing”, he said. “The question is where we go from here and can we beat that? Why not? That’s what it’s all about – dreaming.
“It’s a great honour for me to be standing here with the STARS ambassadors of this university, seeing the scholarships they’ve been getting and hearing of their dreams and where they want to be in a few years time. It reminds me of when I started in sport and had a dream of being Olympic champion.”
Since its launch in 1996, STARS has supported many Olympians and more than 90 world-class athletes. A number of alumni competed at the 2012 Olympics, all of whom were supported by Royal Holloway’s sports bursaries.
Ones to watch among the STARS awardees include Emelia Gorecka, a Psychology student and international long-distance runner with huge potential. She joins Emily Moss, who is studying German and Isabel Brinsden, who is studying English, to form part of Royal Holloway’s cross country team at this year’s British Universities and Colleges Sport championships.
The support offered by STARS aims to reflect the amount of time, effort, enthusiasm and dedication its awardees put into their training and performance, and their contribution to the scheme.
They will be entitled to benefits including financial support, free access to campus sports facilities, a liaison mentor, access to a strength and conditioning coach and discounted chiropractic care.