UEL welcome back sports scholars
PUBLISHED: 11:52 04 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:52 04 October 2013
Gemili and Morton head elite list
The University of East London welcomed 61 elite athletes back to campus to receive sports scholarships recently.
The induction evening saw the group, representing a diverse range of sports and countries, receive their scholarships from UEL vice chancellor Professor John Joughin.
And from homegrown 100m talent to a Paralympic pistol shooter, basketball giants to a Jujutsu specialist, the UEL Sports Scholars are hoping to have an incredible year as they aim high in a range of national and international competition.
With Olympic, Paralympic, World and Commonwealth talent, UEL is hoping to rival universities from across the UK and Joughin said: “I am delighted to welcome these Sports Scholars to UEL. They have proved themselves dedicated athletes, but are also determined to achieve academic success.
“Our sports scholarships allow them to concentrate on their training, competitions and academic study, helping them reach their goals in all these areas.
“UEL is undoubtedly one of the most improved and most ambitious universities for sport in London. With world-class facilities, sport and academic support on hand, I wish the scholars every success for the coming year.”
David Cosford, UEL’s Director of Sport, added: “In 2009, we set up the sports scholarship programme with seven athletes, no sports facilities and no clubs.
“Four years on, we have the best group of scholars ever assembled; SportsDock - one of the finest sports centres in London; clubs for most sports and we have become the most improved university for sport in the UK.
“We had a fantastic year last year with an increase of 35 per cent in British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) points and 15 medals.
“Several of our scholars achieved world class performances and international honours. We are confident we will continue our rise to become the number one university for sport in London by 2015.”
Among the UEL Sports Scholars already recognisable on the international stage are British sprinter Adam Gemili and American-born Cristian Morton, a 400m hurdles specialist.
Both athletes competed at the London 2012 Olympics, reaching the semi-finals of their respective track events.
Gemili, 19, a Sport and Exercise Science undergraduate, said: “It’s incredible being back, I love the uni. To be a scholar for another year is excellent, I can’t wait to go out and represent them.
“It’s brilliant for the university and the students. I’m looking forward to getting to know the other guys and their sports.
“The athletics team has doubled from last year and I think it’s going to be a great year for UEL sport, where we can really boost ourselves up the league tables.”
Running against Usain Bolt in the 200m final at the World Championships in Moscow earlier this year was a pleasant surprise for Gemili, who clocked the fastest 200m time by a Briton for 19 years as he ran 19.98s.
Jamaican legend Bolt backed Gemili to become a ‘great’ sprinter and the youngster added: “He’s the quickest man in the world and he’s familiar with me, it’s amazing. He has said some great things.
“It’s an honour and I feel humbled and blessed that someone of his calibre is talking about me.”
Morton, who is studying for an MSC in International Business Management, is aiming for the Rio 2016 Games after his blistering performance last year.
The 23-year-old explained what the scholarship meant to him, adding: “You have the people who want to see you do well. Whether it’s your coach, the academic staff, the sports medicine team, they all want to see you do your best.
“It will be helpful not to have to worry about things like how do I pay for x, y and z?
“You can just focus on what you need to focus on. For me, it’s my studies and my athletics. It takes a big burden off you.
“I’m aiming for 2016. I took a bit of time off after London. I got my mind right, got my body right. I have been back in training and everything is going well.”
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