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UEL road to Rio: Joy for Bianca Williams after Olympic selection

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Track sprinter Bianca Williams has become the third University of East London (UEL) student to be selected for the Rio Olympics after being named in Team GB’s women’s 4 x 100 metres relay squad for next month’s Games.

The 22-year-old has been rewarded for her excellent performance last weekend when she helped Britain to the 4 x 100 metres silver medal at the European Championships in Amsterdam.

She will be joining fellow UEL students Aimee Willmott and Lawrence Okolie on the plane to Brazil, along with recent UEL graduates Adam Gemili and Szandra Szogedi.

It means UEL will have a larger team that some countries competing at the Games – a testament to the success of the University’s Sports Scholar programme and state-of-the-art SportsDock facility in attracting some of the country’s most talented young athletes.

Bianca, who has just completed the final year of her degree in Sport and Exercise Science, has already enjoyed considerable success as a relay runner.

As well as her silver medal at the weekend, she has won relay bronzes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2015 World Relays in Nassau.

Her Olympic selection is a huge achievement after fitness problems over the winter left her struggling for form at last month’s UK Olympic trials.

Unfortunately, fellow UEL sprinter Shannon Hylton missed out on Olympic selection but, at the age of 19, is likely to be hitting peak form by the time the Tokyo Olympics come around in 2020.

Swimmer Aimee, who is a close friend of Bianca’s, will compete in the 400 metres individual medley while boxer Lawrence will fight in the heavyweight division.

Track sprinter Adam, who graduated from UEL last year, had already booked his place in the 200 metres with his victory at the trials. He has also been selected for the men’s 4x 100 metres relay after he and his GB colleagues raced to the gold medal in Amsterdam.

Szandra, who finished her degree at UEL two years ago, will be competing for Ghana in Rio in judo.

David Cosford, UEL’s Director of Sport, said, “I am absolutely thrilled that Bianca Williams will be joining Aimee Willmott and Lawrence Okolie at the Rio Olympics.

“At UEL we really do enable athletes to excel whilst at the same time keeping their studies and future careers on track.

“All our Olympians are tremendous role models to other students, and we will all be shouting them on during the Games.

“We hope that the effect of having Olympians at UEL will act as a catalyst for future sportsmen and women to choose UEL as a destination as we take sport very seriously and can guarantee that we enable individuals to thrive and reach their true potential.”