University of East London celebrates year of sporting success
- Credit: Archant
Students hailed for achievements at annual awards night
The University of East London celebrated another year of sporting success at their eighth annual awards evening at London’s O2 Arena.
After a minutes silence was held for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, a host of prizes were handed out to students for an array of achievements over the course of the night, with an honorary lifetime achievement award also given to Ruth Holdaway.
Chief executive of Women In Sport since 2013 and named as one of the 50 most influential women in sport in the UK, Holdaway had a clear message during her acceptance speech.
“Sport is a powerful tool,” she said. “It creates health and wealth and life skills to be resilient, to fail and improve, it lifts spirits and brings people together.
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“The future is in your hands. Live and take risks; love and respect the world we live in and hope, be positive, aspire to be better and the world will be a better place.”
Vice-chancellor John Joughin had started the evening by highlighting UEL’s progress over the past 12 months and praised Olympic swimmer Aimee Willmott, who competes in the world championships in Budapest and has been made an ambassador for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, as well as Paralympic shot-putter and discus thrower Vanessa Wallace, who also appeared in Rio last summer and broke records at the British Universities and Colleges Sports Championships (BUCS).
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Joughin said: “Sport is one of the big success stories of UEL since the London 2012 Olympics.
“We have a talent pool in east London and beyond, we’re very committed to our community and sport exemplifies that.
“It’s about being involved in something joyful at UEL and I would ask athletes to please thank the staff for making it possible for you.”
High Performance manager Matthew Tansley spoke of how privileged he felt to work with the student athletes, highlighting the success of the national champion wheelchair basketball squad, the women’s football team and the athletics squad who claimed a record 11 outdoor medals in an overall haul of 27 for UEL at this year’s BUCS events.
And after paying tribute to former director of sport David Cosford for being “instrumental” in the UEL programme during his eight years in the role, Tansley said: “UEL will flourish. All can make a positive impact at UEL and work together, true to the values of discipline, respect and teamwork.
“We want to make the vision a reality and be London’s number one university by 2020, so I ask students ‘what will your UEL legacy be?’
The first awards of the night were handed to students of the year Don McDermott (sports journalism), Paulina Ungurianu (sports therapy) and Jasmin Hladkij (sport & exercise science), before Holdaway was honoured.
And service to sport awards were given to Ellie Clarke (wheelchair basketball), Zac Gilboy (taekwondo), Dan Holmes (cheerleading), Elise Polley (women’s football), Anna Palsdottir (rowing), Kay Parker (basketball), Don McDermott (marketing) and Beth Gunter (volleyball), before British Wheelchair Basketball was named partner of the year.
Youcef Zatat (athletics), Jaspreet Sagoo (archery), Vanessa Wallace (athletics) and Darren Wiafe-Marson (athletics) all received international excellence awards, before the School of health, Sport & Bioscience took the My UEL Sports award for dominating intramural competition.
The women’s tennis team took the director of sport’s Premier award, with Ann Wild named coach of the year for her work with the wheelchair basketball programme, and Aimee Willmott was revealed as the winner of the Mike Brace CBE award for individual achievement of the year, collected by fellow swimmer Michael Gunning, ahead of Wallace, Rinsola Babjide and Chris Bowers.
The final awards of the evening went to the outdoor athletics squad for team achievement of the year, UEL rugby club as most improved and UEL volleyball as club of the year.
Interim director of sport John White then urged students to rest up and reflect on their achievements, before returning in autumn to attempt to do it all again.