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UEL students make it a golden double at Dubai Grand Prix

Lorn Mayers and Vanessa Daobry win their first international gold medals at prestigious para athletics event

By Simon Hart

The University of East London (UEL) celebrated a golden double when two of its sports scholars triumphed at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai. 

Competing in his first international event, construction management student Lorn Mayers (rear, second left) took gold in the F42 shot put with a winning throw of 11.92 metres on Monday.

And on Thursday, wheelchair shot putter Vanessa Daobry (front, right) made it a second celebration for the University when she threw 7.06 metres to win her F34 event – her first international gold medal. 

Vanessa, 39, who is studying sport and exercise science, competed for Britain at the Rio Paralympics last year, finishing fifth in her final.

Having only taken up the sport at the start of 2015, she is already one of the leading throwers in the world in her classification and will be vying for a medal at this summer’s World Para Athletics Championships at the London Stadium.

Lorn, 31, is a five-time British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) champion and has been beaten only once in the last four years.

A talented American Football player when he was younger, he was on the verge of a professional career with Oakland Raiders NFL team when he was shot six times at point-blank range at a New Year's Eve party to celebrate the start of 2007.

It is a testament to his size and physical strength that he survived, though he never regained sensation in his right leg and now walks with the help of a customised boot.

Both Vanessa and Lorn train regularly in UEL’s strength and conditioning gym, Aqua East, and at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre under coach Alison O’Riordan (front, left).

David Cosford, UEL's Director of Sport, said, "We are absolutely delighted for Lorn and Vanessa as they have trained and dedicated so much effort towards their sports over the last few years.

"Their achievements are even more incredible considering they are also balancing studying for their degrees.

"These results just go to show that international athletes can maintain their education while following their sporting dreams, and this is even more possible at UEL because we provide such a world-class environment."

Find out more about the UEL Sports Scholarship programme.