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Level 5 student Robson Friend wins inaugural sports journalism prize

Students in class

New academic award established in honour of the late Guardian sports journalist, Dan Lucas

Robson Friend is the inaugural winner of a new academic prize for UEL Level 4 and Level 5 sports journalism students, which has been established in honour of the Guardian sports journalist, Dan Lucas, who died in March at the age of 31.

The new annual award is the idea of Dr Carrie Dunn, programme leader of the BA (Hons) Sports Journalism degree at UEL, who was a personal friend of Dan and worked alongside him as a freelance sports writer at various sporting events.

Robson was presented with the award at UEL’s Docklands campus on Tuesday at a reception attended by Dan’s father, Gary, his sister Kirsty and his partner, Liz. The Guardian’s head of sport, Owen Gibson, also attended.

Pictured above are (from left to right) Gary, Robson, Liz, Kirsty, Owen and Carrie.

Carrie said, “Dan and I worked most recently worked together at the Women’s Tennis Association and in their tribute to him I wrote: ‘He was a sports enthusiast in the best way - his love for sport extended across disciplines and his thirst for knowledge (and his innate professionalism) meant that, even when he was encountering a discipline he did not know particularly well, he would throw himself into finding out about it.

“On a professional level, he was a great writer and a good colleague - reliable, assiduous and someone it was fun to work with'.”

Robson, who has just completed his second year at UEL and hopes to specialise as a basketball reporter when he graduates. said he was "very proud" to be the first recipient of the award, 

As part of his degree course, he has spent this season reporting on the London Lions in the British Basketball League (BBL). He also writes for the official fan blog for the Denver Nuggets, who play in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States.

He has the opportunity to further his interest in the NBA when he travels to the US later this year to study for a term at Columbia College Chicago before returning to UEL for his second and final term. 

While in the US, he is hoping he can secure media accreditation to cover the famous Chicago Bulls NBA team as well as the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer (MLS) team.

Robson said, "The sports journalism course has been brilliant – not just in a writing and academic sense but in developing me as a person. I probably wasn’t the most confident person before I started this course and I would never have had the confidence to think about going abroad to study without the backing of my course leaders and teachers. 

"Being given a patch to cover is amazing. You get the feel for being in a working environment and the continuity of working with one club is so useful for when you graduate because that is essentially what you might end up doing."