05 October 2021

The University of East London (UEL) has a rich history of students and alumni going on to achieve major sporting success including Adam Gemili, Gemma Gibbons and Lawrence Okolie.

Over 120 high performance sport scholars hoping to join their ranks gathered for a media and networking day at SportsDock on the University's Docklands campus on Wednesday 29 September.

In attendance were aspiring athletes from sports including basketball, football and volleyball, as well as established international competitors like Paralympian Vanessa Wallace.

Dr Ian Pickup, pro vice-chancellor for education and experience, said, "It wasn't that long ago that we launched the high performance programme with just a handful of athletes. Many of them have gone on to become professional sports people and rise to the top of their field, like alumni and boxer Lawrence Okolie, who just retained his cruiserweight world championship."

"Be sure to make the most of the world class facilities we have here at the University. However, also look around the room at all the people here today on the same journey as you. Make sure you celebrate the victories together and support each other in the tough times, and most importantly remember to enjoy it and have fun."

Ones to watch

With the sporting calendar returning to normal, and events like the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham just around the corner, many of the high performing scholars in attendance will be hoping to compete on the biggest stages of all.

Here are just a few of the East London Sport scholars to watch out for at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.


Emily Martin – 10m platform diver

Emily Martin - 10m platform diver

Emily began diving at six years old after being introduced to the sport at a taster session at her local pool. With a love for the water and initially taking part 'just for fun', she now aims to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and medal at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.


  • Gold in the women's synchronized diving 10m platform at the European Junior Championships 2019 
  • Silver in the women's synchronized diving 10m platform at the European Championships 2019
  • Gold in the women's synchronized diving 10m platform at the Fina Diving Grand Prix in Mission Viejo 2019

Why UEL?

"I love living in London. I moved to London because of my diving training, with the added benefit that I now get to do a lot of cool sightseeing when I'm off on Saturday and Sunday afternoons."

Derek Kinlock - 100m and 200m runner

Derek Kinlock - 100m and 200m runner

It all started for Derek after being encouraged to join his local athletics club, Croydon Harriers, by a teacher at sports day. Fast forward to 2021 and Derek is now the current European Under-20's 200m champion. He hopes to make the England squad for Birmingham 2022, and eventually follow in the footsteps of his hero Trayvon Bromell and compete at an Olympic Games.


  • Gold in the Men's 200m European U20 Championships 2021

Why UEL?

"I spoke to some friends who came here, and they spoke highly of the way the University looked after them with the scholarship, one-to-one support and treatments. It seems like the right place to help me focus on becoming a full-time athlete."

Emily Martin – 10m platform diver

Phoebe Spicer - canoe slalom

Phoebe was introduced to canoe slalom when British Canoeing came to her school in 2013 to run a talent identification programme. Over 1,500 athletes across the UK were tested with 13 fasted tracked through the programme including Phoebe, who is currently representing Great Britain for the 2021 international season.


  • Silver in the women's K-1 kayak single slalom teams at the European U-23 Championships 2021
  • Junior world finalist in kayak in 2018 and 2019

Why UEL?

"The attraction was the part-time course. They were very flexible with the sport, as with canoeing you have to train at specific times. UEL were happy to fit my studies around that."

Find out more

Interested in learning more about the High Performance Programme at UEL and our sport scholarship opportunities? Find out more.

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