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It has been a hugely successful sports season for all five University sports scholars. This year, the University has seen the scholars succeed across a variety of sporting events, including national karate championships, national basketball championships and numerous British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) competitions.

The University’s Sports Scholarship scheme has been developed to support students who are either already at a high level of sporting achievement, or who are working towards that goal. The University offers the scholars financial support to help them pursue their sport, as well as a free gym membership with specific strength and conditioning coaching.

Casey Gray, age 20,  from Lichfield, has spent the year balancing her academic work with her commitment to karate training, regularly travelling home for the relevant training and coaching. After becoming the WKU (World Karate Union) Champion in 2017, Casey has had another fantastic competition year and has won multiple national titles. She is WKU English Open Champion (Women’s Korean Forms); WKU Kwon Grand Slam Champion (Women’s Korean Forms); WKU British Open Champion (Women’s Traditional Weapons); and WKU German Open Champion (Women’s Korean Forms).

She said: “This season has been one of my best by far, winning a title in every competition! It has been hard work balancing a full time course and training or competing most weekends, but the rewards are worth the effort. My plans are to train hard over the summer with Lichfield Sport Karate Club (LSKC) in preparation for the WKU World Championships in Austria. I would love to reclaim my WKU World title after not being able to defend it last year. It won't be easy as every year the competition gets tougher but it makes it all the more rewarding to stand on the podium hearing the national anthem play.”

Laura Turley, aged 22, from Connah’s Quay in Deeside, won silver in the 400m at the BUCS Indoor Championships, and then followed this up with a bronze in the 400m at the BUCS Outdoor Championships. She said: “The sports scholarship has helped me massively this year in both my athletics season and my studies. It has helped to give me new opportunities such as experiencing racing abroad in Europe, where I have achieved personal best times, as well as passing all of my exams too. I’m so grateful to have been awarded the scholarship as it has played a huge part in my successes this year.”

Cyclist Kieran Wynne-Cattanach, aged 21, from Llanfairfechan in North Wales, won bronze at the BUCS Hill Climbing Championships for the second year in a row. Kieran, who started cycling over six years ago, managed to place on the podium despite only just recovering from a virus. He said: “The BUCS Hill Climb was one of those results where I felt pretty disappointed with it at the time,. But looking back on it now, I can see that I gave it my all despite feeling rough, so I can’t expect more than that and I’m now very proud of that bronze medal.”

Maisy Clapperton, aged 18, from Manchester, has played in the BUCS Women’s Water Polo team, producing top performances in both BUCS League and the Northern Cup competitions. As a result, Maisy was selected for Team GB at the recent EU Nations Cup, winning four games and scoring against the Czech Republic, finishing the season on a high. She said: “It has been an honour to play for my country, and I thank the University for its continued support over the last year. I look forward to progressing in my waterpolo career.”

Reiss Faure-Daley, aged 22, from Birmingham, is a member of the Basketball team who won the National Division Three Championships, the National Division Three Cup and came second in the Tier One BUCS League. Reiss has been one of the leading scorers in many games, leading from the front with his outstanding performances. He said: “It has been a great first season for the whole team. I feel that the team has a lot of potential to progress over the next few years. I’m also enjoying my time – it’s a great place to play and study.”

Gordon Reay, Director of Sport and Active Lifestyle at the University of Chester, provides the scholars with an educational programme and mentorship. Gordon has coached a number of student atheletes to national and international level. He said: “I am absolutely delighted with how all the sports scholars have conducted themselves this year and it is exciting to see how far they can go in the future. Being a student athlete is a huge sacrifice and the pressures to perform both on an academic and sporting level are extremely tough. However, all of these students have shown great dedication, discipline and to see their achievements and goals come to fruition is a great pleasure.”

He added: “We are very pleased as a University to be able to support these students and they have done both the University and themselves very proud.”

(Photo of Kieran Wynne-Cattanach; copyright credit: Ellen Isherwood)

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