Jess Gordon Brown headshot

University of Brighton trio aiming for Commonwealth Games success

Student Ben Hickling is one of three people linked to University of Brighton joining Team England for the Commonwealth Games starting in Birmingham this week.

Currently studying BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, Ben hasbeen selected for the England weightlifting team competing in the Men’s 55kg category – a class in which he is currently ranked  UK number one. Ben’s best in-competition total as a 55kg lifter is 211kg, which he made at this year’s England Commonwealth Trials, comprising a 96kg snatch and a 115kg clean and jerk.

Ben will be joined in the weightlifting competition by Brighton alumna Jessica Gordon-Brown, who graduated in 2018 with BSc (Hons) Product Design with Professional Experience. Jessica will compete for Team England in the 59kg category, where she is also ranked number one in the UK. Jess’s best in-competition total is 202kg, made at the England Commonwealth Trials with a 91kg snatch and a 111kg clean and jerk.

Ben and Jess have both benefited from the University of Brighton Sports Scholarships programme. This helps students develop their full sporting potential by offering flexibility and support required to train and compete at the highest level while achieving an academic qualification. Benefits for students include financial support, free access to Sport Brighton gyms, specialist workshops in topics such as nutrition and sport psychology, tailored programmes to boost performance, plus a mentor to help with lifestyle management.

Both Ben and Jess came to weightlifting by roundabout routes. Ben took it up by chance after he was asked to go along to a training session to keep a friend company. Jess, meanwhile, only took up weightlifting in 2017 after time as an elite competitor at gymnastics and then judo. Jess was twice a National Acrobatic Gymnastics Champion, before competing in judo at the 2015 Senior European Cup. Jess has now utilised her top-level multi-sport skills to create her own sports coaching business.

Ben Hickling said: “I saw someone else weightlifting, asked them who their coach was and the rest is history – but I never dreamed I would be competing at the Commonwealth Games! Weightlifting is a good fun way to keep fit, while helping to forget the stresses in life.

Whether you want to compete, keep fit or just have fun, Brighton is a great place for sport and being active. The sports scholarship programme has given me the support I need to train and compete at the highest level while studying for my degree. Huge thanks to everyone at the University of Brighton for all their support.”

Jess Gordon-Brown said: “I’m really excited to be part of Team England. We have a really strong team this year – and it’s nice to be alongside fellow Brighton student Ben.

On the University of Brighton staff side, meanwhile, Colin Paterson will also be heading to Birmingham as part of Team England for his fifth time working as a physiotherapist at the Commonwealth Games.

Colin Paterson, Principal Lecturer in the School of Sport and Health Sciences at University of Brighton, said: “I will be coordinating the physiotherapy aspect of the medical team for Team England, and also specifically supporting the weightlifting team. It will be great to follow through my work with Ben at University of Brighton at the Commonwealth Games. I am grateful for University of Brighton supporting me to attend the games in this role.

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