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Largest ever intake of sports scholars to take UEL to new heights

UEL students

102 high-performance sports scholars will compete across 16 different sports

One of the most diverse range of athletes will be competing for the University of East London (UEL) this year after being inducted as sports scholars during a ceremony at UEL's SportsDock.

A total of 102 high-performance sports scholars, a record number for the University, were inducted by Vice-Chancellor Professor John Joughin (pictured centre). They will compete in UEL colours across 16 sports.

After a summer in which four UEL scholars were selected for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, the programme continues to go from strength to strength.

This year it welcomes athletes from its focus sports – football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming and athletics – plus scholars from a variety of other sports including canoe slalom, judo, archery, wheelchair basketball and weightlifting.

Within the athletics programme is Rio Paralympian Vanessa Daobry, who finished fifth in the F34 shot put at the Games just 18 months after taking up the sport.

Her meteoric rise from beginner to Paralympian is a journey that she would not have been able to achieve had it not been for the help of the sports scholar programme.

“My time at UEL so far has helped me become the athlete I am today,” said Vanessa. “Without the strength and conditioning and nutritional support I wouldn’t have got to Rio.”

Vanessa has recently embarked on a degree in Sport and Exercise Science after completing the New Beginnings access course for mature students.

“I was always going to stay with UEL,” she said. “I wanted to continue with the support I’ve got here and continue with my UEL experience.”

Having already competed at a Paralympics, Vanessa is hungry for more success on the world stage, as well as with UEL.

“It would be amazing to represent UEL and to give something back to them for all their fantastic support,” she said. “I then want a medal at the London 2017 Para-athletics Championships and then in Tokyo at the next Paralympics.”

Canoe slalom will be part of the programme for the first time this year, with two Team GB Under-20  athletes flying the flag for UEL.

Zachary Allin, who is ranked third in the K1M Premier Division, is already excited about the prospect of representing his new university.

“It’s really exciting to be part of the team,” he said. “I’ve already experienced a good environment in my short time here and being able to compete and try to earn medals for the university is something I look forward to.”

Fellow K1M Premier Division paddler Chris Bowers, who is ranked fifth in the standings, said the flexibility of the programme and the east London location played a big part in the decision to join UEL.

“It’s so easily accessible to me,” he said. “Lee Valley is where all the senior guys train and where the canoe slalom was at London 2012. 

“It’s also a really good university that gives me the opportunity to further my education while also continuing my training. The sports scholarship programme was the cherry on top to help me manage my studies and training effectively.”

UEL’s basketball programme, already No 1 in the South of England, looks set to improve even further with the arrival of London Lions captain Jo Ikhinmwin – a professional basketball player who has captained the Great Britain Under-20 side.

Although he has achieved so much in the game already, having also studied and played basketball in the United for five years, Joe said the decision to join UEL was a no-brainer.

He said, “UEL is the best sporting university in London and they’ve provided me with a really good opportunity to further my education as well as furthering my sporting career with the high-class facilities and personnel we have here. It was an opportunity I jumped at.

“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to represent UE, as I grew up round the corner and all my friends and family are still in the area. 

“Before I signed up here I used to come and work out with the coaches. I’ve always been made to feel at home so it’s a great environment for me to flourish in.”

Matthew Tansley, High Performance Sports Manager at UEL, is confident year’s intake of sports scholars can make it a record-breaking year for the university.

“We’ve already achieved so much for such a young programme but the athletes inducted this year will take us to a new level,” he said.

Professor Joughin said, “It’s great to welcome the new sports scholars but it’s also a time to look back and enjoy the success of our programme, including our Olympians and Paralympians.

“The programme wouldn’t be where it is today without the hard work of Matthew Tansley, David Cosford [Director of Sport at UEL] and the rest of the fantastic sports scholar team. They will continue to lead our athletes to success.”