10 August 2012
An inspirational night to celebrate sport at the University of Nottingham
University of Nottingham alumni athletes, games makers and torch bearers celebrated sporting achievement at a packed Nottingham 2012 reception last night.
Even Jamaican sprinter, the fastest man on earth, made an appearance . . . on the giant TV screens to win his 200m final and another gold medal, cheered on by more than 80 alumni at the reception at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre. The reception was hosted by the University’s Department of Sport and Recreation and the Alumni Relations office.
There were guest appearances by Athens silver medal canoeist Campbell Walsh (Mathematical Physics, 1999; Information Technology PGDip, 2005) and Olympic rowing squad member Jo Cook (Psychology 2005), former Director of Physical Education at the University, Geoff Cornes and Wheelchair Tennis Manager at the International Tennis Federation Mark Bullock (Economics 1989).
But pride of place went to the alumni games makers like Anna Kent (Nursing 2003) who finished a midwifery shift at the City Hospital in Nottingham at 8am on Thursday morning. She then went home, got changed, caught the train to arrive in London in time for the Nottingham 2012 reception and then, after a few hours sleep, started her shift in the 24-hour Medical Centre at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Anna’s dedication and commitment to volunteering at the Games and that of countless other Nottingham alumni, who have given up their time and holidays to give something back, was celebrated at the reception as much as the University’s sporting prowess and pride in an ever-increasing number of high-profile and successful athletes.
“Sometimes I’m quite cynical about corporate sponsorship-type things but when I saw the NHS presentation at the opening ceremony I had a tear in my eye and I’ve been ever so proud to be a part of it. I’m very very pleased that we can be an important host to people from all the other countries in the world who are enjoying their time here and joining in the celebration of being healthy and active in competition against each other,” she said.
Will Lobo (Economics and French 2012) was a games maker in the athletes village. “I’ve absolutely loved being in the village. My role has been working with security on entry into the village and that intrinsically gives you some interaction with the athletes as they come through. I saw all the hockey players, some of the Brazilian footballers, Becky Adlington and then watched Sir Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins just cycling together around the village.”
“I never considered NOT volunteering,” said Eleanor Green (Chemistry 1966). “I’m British and I wanted to do something for my country. I have no regrets. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ll be very sorry when the Olympics is over but I’m doing the Paralympics as well.”
Beth Cooper (MBA 2010) too is preparing to help out at the Paralympics helping to direct people at London City Airport. “In all probability we’re not going to have the Olympics again. I think we’ve done an amazing job and the thought that we’re not going to experience it again is really sad.”
The roll call of University medals, 10 in total so far over the years, outlined by the Director of Sport, Dan Tilley, was especially poignant for reception guest Colin Herridge (Economics/Social History 1962) who has sponsored the University Sports Bursary Scheme for many years, a scheme from which almost all of the Olympic athletes at the University have benefited.
“I feel very proud that I’ve played a very small part in the success we’re celebrating tonight,” said Colin.
“When I saw the names of the Nottingham alumni medal winners past and present go up there on the screen and realised that I contributed in part to them achieving their success I couldn’t ask for anything more. I started doing this 10 years ago and over that period the sporting success of Nottingham graduates has grown and I just feel a little bit of reflected glory. I can tell my grandchildren that I helped some of those athletes and you can’t ask for anything more than that.
“For a university that has always prided itself on its academic prowess to be in the position it is now in terms of its sporting abilities speaks volumes for all those involved in sport at the University, from the late Vaughan Parry Williams to the current Director of Sport Dan Tilley and the current and previous Vice-Chancellors.
“My view is that we’ve still got bags more things to do and we can actually make this university not necessarily a sports academy, but ensure that we get more than our fair share of people able to represent their countries in sport. It’s a great opportunity for us and from tonight it seems that we’re all headed in the right direction.”
And as the night wore on one particular PhD student in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering became incredibly popular. The queue for people to have their photos taken with Chris Hill’s Olympic torch, which he carried a few weeks ago, was never ending. Proof, if it were needed, of the enduring popularity and the pulling power of the Greatest Show on Earth.
The Nottingham Experience is a key project within the University’s new appeal, Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, which is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. Find out more about the Vaughan Parry Williams Coaching Fund and how you can support us at http://tiny.cc/UoNImpact
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