A new induction into the Sporting Hall of Fame

Famous alumnus Johnny Mowlem, has been inducted into the University’s Sporting Hall of Fame.

Johnny, who graduated from Geography and Spanish in 1988, is one of Great Britain’s most successful racing drivers; having been ranked amongst the top sports car and GT drivers in the world.

His career began in 1989, and a mere six years later he was crowned British Champion.

During his career Johnny has competed in every class of sports car world championship racing with victories and podiums at virtually all of the worlds major endurance events, including the 24 Hours of Daytona and the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours.

“When thinking about my career, what brings a smile to my face most, is the 24 hours of Daytona race. I was 16 times a competitor and 10 times on the podium, to win that race, was a real highlight!”

Johnny was inducted into the hall of fame at the sports scholarship awards evening. An event which celebrates the successful students who have been awarded a sports scholarship for the year head.

Prior to the evening awards Johnny spent time with the sports scholars talking about his career and success. Inspiring our students who are at the beginning of their own sporting careers.

In the future Johnny will continue to inspire our students by supporting the sports scholarship programme. Helping students in their aim to gain sporting success whilst still studying for a world class degree.

Johnny Mowlem with the head of sport and physical activity and head of the facilities directorate

Above: Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport & Physical Activity, Johnny Mowlem and Dennis Hopper, Director of Facilities Management.

You can take a look at the full Sporting Hall of Fame by visiting The Edge. It’s located alongside the sport scholarship board and you can read more about Johnny and all our other Hall of Fame recipients, who include:

  • Rebecca Gallantree, Sports Science 2005, Great Britain diver.
  • Carol Isherwood OBE, History 1982 and PGCE Education 1984, Great Britain rugby union player and founder of the Rugby Football Union for Women.
  • Andrew Shovlin, Mechanical Engineering 1995 and PhD in Mechanical Engineering 1999, Formula 1 Chief race engineer.
  • Ray French MBE, General Studies 1961, England rugby union and rugby league player, rugby league commentator.
  • Giles Long MBE, Geology 1997, three time Paralympic swimming champion
  • Simon Mason, Economics 1994, Great Britain hockey player and vice president of England Hockey

Find out more about Johnny by following him on twitter; @johnnymowlem

Athlete of the Month: October

As term begins to get underway so do all of our teams training sessions as they start working to their goals for the new season. Unlike many of our teams the athletes from the University of Leeds Boat Club don’t compete every Wednesday giving them extra time to focus on their training for big events throughout the year. Senior rower Juliette told us a little more about her current programme in preparation for her upcoming races.  

What’s your sport?

Rowing, I only started the sport last year but I’m now a member of the senior performance squad.

What is your training schedule?

We have four sessions a week on the water, along with two erg sessions, two circuits training sessions and two to three S&C sessions a week. It is quite intense but the training is varied so it keeps it enjoyable.

What S&C do you do?

We have three S&C sessions planned every week. The sessions are focused on developing functional leg strength through exercises like weighted squats, trap bar dead-lifts and Olympic lifting. The sessions progress to using heavier weights for lower reps to develop strength.

What is your favourite exercise?

I really enjoy Olympic lifting, which is something that I started doing last year through my S&C programme. I love the functionality of the movements, and the way they incorporate strength and technique.

What is your least favourite exercise?

I am not a big fan of Bulgarian split squats as they really get your quads burning.

How do you feel S&C has helped you develop as an athlete?

It has helped me broaden my range of movement when it comes to lifting. I’ve learnt to clean, and have started to learn how to snatch, which is something that I have really come to enjoy. Having a set S&C programme has also helped me understand the importance of strength and conditioning, and the benefits it can bring when done properly to any sport.

Having just entered her second year of the sport S&C coach Max has been able to see her progression into the senior squad:

Juliette is great to work with. Not only does she really push herself in the gym, but she helps others around her. The Senior Rowing S&C sessions are very busy and so you can find her coaching those around her in between her sets. She is proficient at all the movements that we do, and has a great platform on which to build more strength and power which we can then work to transfer into improved performances on the water.

Below is Juliette completing a set of cleans in preparation for the upcoming season.

Changes to weekend lane swimming

The Edge

From Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 September onwards there will be changes to our swimming pool timetable. 

We have extended our Swimming Lesson Programme and this means that during the times below there will be no general swimming available:

  • Saturdays: 08:30 – 13:00
  • Sundays: 08:30 – 12:30

Early morning swimming is still available on both weekend days, across all eight swimming pool lanes 7:30 – 8:30

This change is due to reviewing  our health and safety procedures related to swimming pool lifeguard supervision. We feel that in order to improve the quality of our swimming lessons and ensure a safe environment for all, it is necessary to remove the general swimming at these times.

When preparing for this change we have reviewed the attendance of general swimming at these times, and found that according to headcounts and pay-as-you-go sales at reception, general demand for swimming at this time is very low, so we hope the change will have minimal impact to Edge members and visiting pay-as-you-go customers.

As a service improvement it means we have been able increase our Swimming Lesson Programme by a further sixteen sets of lessons, providing an additional one hundred and twenty eight customer places.

  • To view our latest swimming pool timetables, including these weekend changes please click here.
  • To enquire about swimming lessons please click here.
  • For more information on the changes to weekend lane swimming, please email sport@leeds.ac.uk 



Boxing at The University of Leeds

Whether you just want to keep in shape or want to compete the University of Leeds boxing club is the place to get fighting fit.

We are a friendly and social club who welcome people of all abilities. Whether you’re a beginner just setting out or you’re an amateur looking to compete, we have training sessions for you. We go over the basics with beginners perfecting your footwork, balance and punch technique and in no time, you will be throwing haymakers and dodging around the ring like a pro.

Anyone who has put on a pair of gloves and given boxing a go will tell you how difficult it is. Before even stepping into the ring the standard three-minute round on the pads or bags may appear pretty short and easy but I can tell you it isn’t. Boxing is a tough workout but it’s also a fun way to get fit. There is no better way to let off steam and de-stress than sweating it out in the ring.

Our club has two coaches from Tigers Boxing gym who run our sessions. They specialise in helping beginners learn and progress to novices and then onto skilled technicians. Our coach Michelle Sutcliffe is a former three times world champion so she definitely knows her stuff.

For people who want to compete we host exhibitions and also compete against other universities throughout the year. Last year we also helped host a charity fight night to raise money for the James Burke Foundation. It was a great event with lots of support from other clubs and societies. We also featured a competition between American Football and Rugby League players as part of their ongoing charity work last year. The two teams have been strong advocates for mental health over recent years and it was wonderful to support them in their continued fundraising efforts.

Get involved

We have our official Give It A Go on the 17th October. The event is free for all to attend just make sure you book beforehand as spaces are limited. All the info will also be released on our Facebook page here.

Alternatively you can come along to any of our regular training session for a reduced price of just £3 for your first go!

It’s not all serious training though, we have regular socials throughout the year where we like to relax and celebrate our wins. If you want to get involved in boxing just get in touch with us through social media and we’ll take it from there.

Follow us on Instagram and give our Facebook page a like too.

Strength and Condition Like a Rugby Union Player

Rugby Union is one of the biggest sports in the world and makes for one of the biggest and best events in our University calendar. Rugby players put in a lot of training in preparation for the upcoming season and with our team’s ever strong focus on beating Leeds Beckett strength and conditioning training has been essential to their development.

The rugby boys facing off against Beckett in the Varsity Finale

The sport requires players to have a blend of many physical qualities, including strength, power, size, speed, and endurance. Most sports focus on one or two of these elements. Having to develop them all is a tricky balancing act. With Rugby Union being the showcase event at Leeds Varsity, this does not give the team much time to prepare. Therefore, they were given a focus on one physical quality over preseason: muscular endurance.

Muscular endurance is the ability for a muscle to perform at the required level repeatedly. For rugby players, this means that their bodies become accustomed to working hard for long periods of time and are able to quickly recover to work hard again – as they would in a match.

3 of the key exercises that were used to prepare the players for Leeds Varsity are the box squat, bent-over row, and Romanian deadlift.


  1. Box Squat

The way we are using the box is just as a guide for depth. Right now we don’t want the players going deeper than this with their squats, as this height will have the most carryover to making them fast and powerful on the pitch.

Box squat start position


Box squat bottom position

  1. Bent-over Row

This exercise ticks lots of boxes at once. Having to keep a flat back and brace the core in that position will develop great trunk strength; the row itself develops muscular endurance for the pulling muscles, which are very important for rugby players and often underdeveloped; and the hamstrings are becoming used to having to hold that position too, which again is very important for rugby players and will help with the ability to perform the 3rd key exercise, the Romanian Deadlift.

Bent-over row start position

Bent-over row top position

  1. Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

The RDL strengthens the hamstrings and glutes, which are key for preventing injury and producing power on the pitch. Increasing the muscular endurance of the hamstrings is especially important, as with the large amount of running that the players do over preseason, the hamstrings can become tired without the required muscular endurance, and this is where the likelihood of injury increases.

RDL start position

RDL bottom position


On the 3rd October 2018 history was made when the University of Leeds beat local rivals Leeds Beckett University to win their first ever Leeds Varsity.

Leeds Varsity is an iconic event in the city of Leeds’ sporting calendar, and consists of fixtures across the year culminating in one final day of competition where 50+ fixtures are played and the winner is crowned.

For the past 13 years Leeds Beckett have walked away with the trophy but this year was the turn of the Leeds Gryphons.

Going into the final couple of days of competition the gryphons were up 4-2 following the cross country, american football, Intra-mural varsity, cricket and futsal fixtures being played earlier in the year.

On Tuesday night two openers were played, Netball and Hockey. First the women fought hard in the netball and in the second half built up a small lead which they maintained to win 48 – 41 taking a point from Beckett. Over in the Hockey we weren’t so lucky with both men’s and women’s games ending in a draw and Uni losing out narrowly on penalty flicks.

This made the score 5-4 going in to the final day of fixtures.

All our students fought valiantly throughout the day with great determination knowing that every point really does count. Some of the highlights were badminton and volleyball taking a clean sweep of wins, volleyball men and women even won in straight sets. Over in the pool water-polo won both men’s and women’s fixtures to make that their ninth year undefeated.

Our men’s and women’s football first teams also won with the men coming back from 3-1 down to draw 4-4 and take the game to penalties.

Meanwhile on the hockey pitch our women’s fourth team made it look easy, winning by a huge margin of 13-2.

Many other teams had close games and narrowly missed out on points but everyone put in a huge effort, including the large crowds supporting each fixture throughout the day.

All the results from the day can be seen on the Leeds Varsity website here.

With so many fixtures happening throughout the day staff and students checked the website regularly to check what the final scores were, and just before the Rugby Union final took place it was confirmed.

The score was 30-28 to the University of Leeds, an historic moment.

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at the University said

“We are so proud of how all our students performed across the various sports competitions, they gave it their all, demonstrating skill, fitness and expertise.

Our joint UOL and LUU staff teams have been exceptional in providing fantastic support to our students to enable this to happen. A true partnership in action.

We so hope that all University and Union staff can share in this success and wish our Leeds Gryphons well for the academic year on and off the field.”

Following the rugby union finale game played in the Emerald Headingly Stadium in front of over 10,000 people (in which Beckett took a significant win) Leeds University Union Activities Officer, Lauren Huxley and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tom Ward, had the pleasure of collecting the overall varsity winners trophy.


A proud moment for everyone at the University of Leeds.

Lauren said,

“We WON VARSITY! For the first time ever we triumphed over Leeds Beckett in the overall scores and took the Trophy! So a huge congratulations to everyone who was involved, we are so proud of every team, every member, and everyone who helped with the fixtures and events in any way!”

Bring on next year!

Raising mental health awareness with UoLBC

2018/19 is set to be an exciting year for the University of Leeds Boat Club. They’re gearing up to celebrate 100 years of the boat club in 2019 and their senior crews are both aiming for Henley qualifications off the back of their most successful seasons in 25 years.

They are also going big on pushing the mental health agenda. Their committee have all completed mental health training so that they can understand how best to support their members. And their two fundraising secs have just launched the Club’s support of this year’s chosen charity: Leeds Mind.


On Friday 5th October the club will be running their first charity fundraiser of the year: a 12 hour ergathon. Think a marathon, but on an indoor rowing machine. For 12 hours straight, they will keep the flywheel spinning, all in aid of a great, local charity. If you’ve ever been on the rowing machine you’ll know how difficult 12 minutes of rowing is, let alone half a day.

The rowers are going to have to dig deep and work as a team and will need all the support they can get. They will be outside the union from 8am-8pm, so pop over and say hi! You can find out more about the great work Leeds Mind are doing, and why UoLBC cares so much about mental health.

And this is just the start! Keep an eye out for Naked Calendars next month and more challenges on the ergs. There may even be an attempt on a world record.

Rowing at the University of Leeds

The boat club is still open to new members! They are experts in teaching people to row and have hundreds of opportunities. Coaching, volunteering, social rowing or high performance pathways (you can even get onto the GB Start programme), they welcome anyone who wants to row and work hard to accommodate everyone. Whether you have rowed before or not, want to get out on the water once or five times a week, get in touch with the guys at UoLBC.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leedsuniboatclub/

2018/19 Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/uolbc201819/

Email: uolbccaptain@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uniofleedsbc/?hl=en

University of Leeds Rowing Novice Men at BUCS Regatta 2018