Commonwealth glory for students past and present
Brighton students past and present made a splash last weekend at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with a new national record and a silver medal in the weightlifting events.
Brighton alumna Jessica Gordon-Brown picked up a silver medal on Sunday 31 July in the women’s 59kg weightlifting final, with an 86kg snatch and 111kg clean and jerk. Current undergraduate Ben Hickling, meanwhile, just missed out on the medals in his 55kg class on Saturday 30 July, coming fourth with a total 212kg lift – a personal best and a new English record.
Ben is currently studying Sport and Exercise Science BSc(Hons), while Jess graduated in 2018 with a Product Design with Professional Experience BSc(Hons). Both have taken part in the University’s sports scholarships programme, which offers financial support, help with strength and conditioning and physical performance testing, free access to the University’s gyms and mentoring.
Barry Squires, Head of Sport, said: “We couldn’t be prouder of both Ben and Jess and their accomplishments at the Commonwealth Games. The dedication that they have both put into their chosen sport alongside their studies and new career for Jess is testament to why they are regarded as best in their weightlifting categories.”
He added: “We are glad to have played a role in their development whilst they studied at Brighton and received support through our sport scholarship programme to aid their training and competition. Ben will return to us in September and we can’t wait to hear about his Commonwealth experiences as part of Team England!”
Jess – who has a background in elite gymnastics and judo as well as weightlifting – told the BBC: “I had a scholarship at my university – the University of Brighton – and we were offered strength and conditioning. For judo, you need to build a lot of speed and power and one of the tools they use is Olympic lifting. They started me off and they said I was very strong – too strong – and my technique was terrible! From there, I really wanted to prove them wrong and said I wanted to learn this technique.”
After his fourth-placed finish and personal best performance, Ben told reporters in the NEC: “I don’t have many words to describe it, to be honest. The crowd were electric, and I loved every moment of it. I haven’t eaten pizza or chocolate, so it’s going to be pretty wild in terms of food for the next couple of days but back to an athlete’s diet in a couple of weeks and back training.“