The Olympics and Paralympics ignited the passion of sports fans across the globe during the summer. We were proud of the various roles that our university community had both in and out of the sporting arena, either as competitors, coaches or supporters.
Alan Baser, who works as a Risk and Compliance Manager in the university’s accommodation and hospitality services department, was an official judge for the Olympic sailing competition. Alan said: “What an experience and what a backdrop – Rio did an amazing job! It was a great challenge and I enjoyed every moment of it. Time to start working towards Tokyo!”
Alex Bliss, Strength and Conditioning Coach at the university’s Welkin Laboratories in Eastbourne worked with GB Wheelchair Basketball team star Simon Munn to get him competition-ready. Brighton-based Simon has worked with the university’s Sports and Exercise Science Consultancy Unit (SESCU) in preparation for three Paralympic games – Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 and took home a bronze medal from Rio 2016.
Triple alumnus Dr Gary Brickley who works in the School of Sport and Service Management as a Senior Lecturer and Exercise Physiologist, helped Dame Sarah Storey become the most successful female Paralympian of all time. Gary has been Sarah’s paracycling coach for 12 years and has contributed to her record-breaking gold medal haul. Sarah added three more golds to her medal collection in Rio.
Dr Brickley, who is based at the Eastbourne campus, said: “The Paralympic Games in Rio have been a huge success, improving on London in the same way the Olympic team managed to secure more medals.
“There had been several concerns about Rio with the Zika virus, pollution, venues not ready, challenges in the heat before it even started. However, with the right preparations and the right team GB had a brilliant games.
“Sarah’s first event was the 3000m pursuit – and she broke her own world record and stormed the final to take her first gold and make her the most successful GB female Paralympian ever.
“Her second event the 500m was one where she was not expected to medal and she came 4th behind gold medallist Kadena Cox from GB who is a sprinter. To be in the Olympic velodrome to see Sarah win another gold medal was a great experience. She made it look relatively easy but I know how well she has prepared and how hard she trains throughout the year.
David Stone MBE (Social Work BA(Hons) 2007), also coached by Dr Gary Brickley, won silver and bronze medals in the Cycling Road Race and Time Trials (T1–2) categories. Dr Brickley said: “After a tough year, David was delighted to win bronze in the time trial and silver in the road race. Having worked with him for over 16 years it was brilliant to see him perform so well. Sarah added two golds to her collection in both events and was in a different class throughout. As a coach it was incredibly rewarding to see both athletes performing so well.
“The Paralympic Games are always an incredible festival of sport and the Brazilians put on an impressive games. There was an incredible atmosphere at all the venues. I was lucky enough to watch our 2014 Alumnus Award winner, Faye McClelland (Physiotherapy BSc(Hons) 2013), just miss out on a medal at the triathlon on Copacabana beach.
Colin Paterson, Senior Lecturer at our Eastbourne campus, acted as the lead Physiotherapist at the Paralympics GB Holding Camp and was there to oversee the physiotherapy provision. He said: “It was an honour to have been chosen and it was great working with Paralympics GB again and supporting the teams to produce their best performances.”
In March, senior officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited Professor Yannis Pitsiladis to learn more about the university’s Anti-Doping Research at its laboratories in Eastbourne.
Professor Nick Webborn OBE worked in Rio for the duration of the Paralympic games, covering injury research and testing through his role on the International Paralympic Committee. Nick is Medical Director of Sportswise, the sport and exercise medicine clinic based at the University of Brighton.