News for home page. The latest four new stories will be displayed in date order.

Leeds Alumna Five-Time World Champion

Laura anderson competing at the aikido world championships

University of Leeds Alumna Laura Anderson (Dentistry, 2010) has this weekend become undisputed Aikido World Champion. Laura won her 5th world individual title while competing in Akita, Japan, a feat never before achieved in the history of the sport.

Laura began her Aikido career at the age of 12 at Wharfedale Aikido Club in Ilkley, as an active child Laura jumped at the chance to try a new sport and has never looked back.

Laura began her Dentistry degree at The University of Leeds in 2005 and was awarded an Elite Sport Scholarship to help support her in training and competing at an elite level alongside studying for a world class degree. She was also a member of the Women’s Hockey Club during her time at Leeds.

Laura anderson competing at the aikido world championships

In 2011 Laura won her first individual world title in London, followed by two more in Japan (2013) and Australia (2015). This put Laura in the record books as no competitor had ever won 3 world titles in the history of the sport.

This year the first World Sport Aikido Federation (WSAF) world championships took place in London. The WSAF is a world governing body for Aikido and has been set up to provide a platform for open and fair competition with a goal to encourage the amalgamation of all international competition. At this competition Laura won her 4th individual world title along with a mixed team gold and women’s team silver.

Just two weeks following this competition, to ensure Laura was undisputed champion of the world she travelled with the British Team to Akita, Japan to compete in the World Championships hosted by the Japanese Aikido Association (JAA). The majority of competitors at this event hadn’t competed in London as they have an affiliation to the JAA.

Laura ANderson receiving her gold medal

Laura made her way through the preliminaries and into the final where she won her 5th individual title and was crowned undisputed champion of the world. Laura remains the only person in the history of the sport to win more than two individual world titles, so to win five is an incredible feat.




In her career Laura has won 11 gold medals in total including a number of mixed and women’s team medals. A full list can be seen below;

Year  Location Event Medal
2011 London, UK Individual Gold
Mixed Team Gold
2013 Kawasaki, Japan Individual Gold
Women’s Team Gold
Mixed Team Gold
2015 Gold Coast, Australia Individual Gold
Women’s Team Gold
Mixed Team Gold
2017 London, UK Individual Gold
Mixed Team Gold
Women’s Team Silver
Akita, Japan Individual Gold


If you would like to try Aikido then get in touch with the University of Leeds Aikido Club or contact Leeds Central Aikido Club.

Leeds Rhino’s First Women’s Team to Play at Sports Park Weetwood

Rugby pitch Sports Park Weetwood

Leeds Rhinos have launched their first women’s Rugby League team and are set to train and play at Sports Park Weetwood.

The Leeds Rhinos Women’s team, an Open Age side, will aim to compete in the Women’s Super League in 2018. The creation of the women’s team is part of Leeds Rhinos’ commitment to grow the game and offer more opportunities for females to play Rugby League through its charity Leeds Rhinos Foundation. This supports the RFL’s own ambition to attract more women to the game after it was revealed that 93 per cent of the current total of 95,000 who play the game are male.

Gary Hetherington, Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive said:

“Leeds Rhinos are totally committed to supporting the growth of Rugby League amongst women and girls and it’s so good to see so many currently playing the and we hope the creation of a potential new Super League team will encourage even more to play.”

Lois Forsell, Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s women and girls development officer, who is a current England international, will be heading up the Leeds Rhinos Women’s team as programme co-ordinator and is confident that Leeds will benefit from this new venture.

Forsell said:

“Leeds Rhinos Foundation now engage with more girls and women playing Rugby League in Leeds than ever before, so for us to offer an opportunity and a pathway for them to play for our own team is something that will help the women’s game grow even further,”

We firmly believe that the introduction of a women’s Super League team in Leeds will enhance our women’s and girl’s development programme. As a charity, we are very proud to be affiliated with the Rhinos and we believe that having a club with their success and history behind us will inspire more girls to get involved in playing and we hope to be a team that young girls aspire to play for, just as boys dream of playing for the Rhinos.”

Women interested in playing are invited to a launch evening at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on 21st September in the Pavilion, where they will be able to find out more information on the new team.  This will be followed by taster sessions and try outs which will cater for all women interested in either having a taster of Rugby League or aiming to excel further within the sport.


Leeds Rhinos Women’s Fans Taster Session: Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Monday 2nd October 2017, 6.30-8pm

Leeds Rhinos Women’s Under-16-19s Try Out: Sports Park Weetwood, Tuesday 10th October 2017, 6.30pm-8.30pm

Leeds Rhinos Women Open Access Try Out: Sports Park Weetwood, Tuesday 17th October 2017, 6.30pm-8.30pm


For more information on Leeds Rhinos Women’s team contact

Celebrities Play Cricket at Sports Park Weetwood

celebrities playing cricket at university cricket pitch, sports park weetwood

The University’s sports facilities were shown off in spectacular fashion this month when the BBC chose Sports Park Weetwood to host their celebrity cricket match.

For the 60th anniversary of the BBC 5 Live Test Match Special Radio Programme the BBC organised two mixed teams of cricketing greats and celebrities to play a T-20 match. The teams were lead by captains Phil Tufnell and Michael Vaughan and included celebrities such as Sprinter Yohan Blake, the Made in Chelsea Star Jamie Laing and BBC breakfasts Naga Munchetty both of whom are alumni of the University of Leeds.

Members of the public applied for tickets to watch the game via a random draw and 1,500 people out of the 27,000 that applied were lucky enough to get a ticket. For those who couldn’t be there on the day the game was screened live on the BBC red button, online and on BBC 5 live sports extra showing off the first-class cricket pitch and beautiful surroundings of Sports Park Weetwood.

During the match Great Food at Leeds delivered an astonishing birthday cake to the TMS commentary team which Henry Blofeld described as “…the cake of the century!”

cake int he shape of parkinson building

This fantastic event was a huge success and has showcased some of the high quality of the sports facilities at the University of Leeds where £25m has been invested over the past 8 years.

Gawaine Mackenzie-Hogg, who manages our outdoor operations said: “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. But this was a great opportunity that we could not turn down.
“Test Match Special is a broadcasting and cricketing institution and it is good to be part of their anniversary celebrations.”

Suzanne Glavin Head of Sport and Physical Activity said: “It allows us to showcase some fantastic sporting facilities that students and public can enjoy. We can also explain the work we are doing to develop top-flight cricketing talent, the names who’ll no doubt feature on future Test Match Special broadcasts.”

If you missed the match you can watch it back on BBC i-player until the end of September.

To find out more about playing cricket at the University of Leeds, including our MCC cricket centre of excellence take a look at our cricket page here. 

Introducing our biggest ever class timetable!


Brand new class timetable from 25th September!

Want to get more from your gym, but bored of the same old programmes or don’t have the time for long fitness sessions?

Look no further – here at the Edge we are introducing a brand new range of exercise classes, combining exciting new products and time-maximising 30-minute sessions – taking our total number of term time classes to over 220 per week!

Download the new timetable…


Here are just a few of your new exercise opportunities…


1. Edge HIIT

Incorporating strength, cardio and interval training, this Gym-Floor class will work you to the max in just 30 minutes! Designed to fit naturally around your day, our new sessions mean you can go from work to gym and back again with ease.

2. Clubbercise ®

Want to bring a night out to your workout?  Clubbercise® is a fun dance workout to club anthems from 90′s classics, using glowsticks to add to the atmosphere. Clubbercise fitness classes are great for beginners and fitness fans alike.

3. Barre Pilates

The Barre Pilates Method mixes Pilates, ballet & body conditioning for a whole body workout. This is a low impact class but that doesn’t mean you won’t sweat! This class aims to tone and define those muscles.


Water, check. Towel, check. Trainers, check. Glowsticks….


4. New virtual classes

With our brand new state of the art virtual offerings, we are adding virtual classes such as Insanity, P90X and Spin, available on-demand. These new additions are creating more variety and fun in our class schedules, complementing our new live sessions ranging from Primal Fitness to Freestyle Kickboxing

…and more

Due to popular demand, we are also adding more Body Attack, Body Pump and Body Combat as part of our Les Mills package, working hard to use our world-class Edge facilities to their full potential and ensure you get the most out of your membership.

Book your classes online or visit our team at the Edge who will give you all the information you need to get involved.

Download the new timetable and book online today…


Breaking gender barriers in sport – Laura Chow

Two lines of American Football players lining up to start a play

Breaking gender barriers in sport

The first day I went to training for American football I was so nervous. I almost bailed and got off the bus before the stop at Sports Park Weetwood several times. I was worried about being a girl playing the sport in a male team; that the guys  would be unwelcoming or judge me. However, as soon as I arrived and started playing, I realised I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My teammates treated me as equally as if I had been any man who’d walked onto the pitch and were supportive, friendly and kind. I was expected to be as fast and strong and to hit as hard as the rest of the men. There was no special treatment just because I’m female. To me this was exhilarating as it forced me to challenge myself and push myself harder. Training could be exhausting at times, but the tough times bonded us all and the team have become like brothers to me. We all look out for each other and encourage each other regardless of gender or anything else.

“I think sometimes people perceive men to be more sexist than they actually are and assume they will look down on women who try to play sports seen as typically “male”. “

Sadly, in some occasions, this can be the case. However, I can honestly say I have not found this while playing on the team and to believe that men in general are sexist or that their attitude to women playing sport is sexist, is wrong. Never once was I made to feel different, and the level of support everyone gives to each other on the team is really inspiring.

I have been proud and honoured to be a member of the American football team and have come to love playing a sport I would never have thought of playing before uni. I can honestly say joining, despite my gender or whatever people may think of it, has been one of the best decisions I have made this year. Gender should not be a barrier to sport.


Leeds Varsity parkrun, be a part of the series

Leeds Varsity are excited to announce that following last years success, Varsity parkrun is back for 2017.

If you’ve always wanted to be involved with the greatest sporting event in the university calendar, you can! So how does it work?

Each runner and volunteer will score a point for their University, the University with the most points wins parkrun Varsity.

When? Saturday 30th September, 8.30am

Where? Woodhouse Moor

How? Register with parkrun then simply turn up on the Saturday morning wearing your University colours to take part. Staff, students and alumni are welcome. parkrun is a 5km run which you can take as slow or as fast as you like. If you are keen to get involved but can’t run, don’t worry, you can volunteer for your University and you’ll still count towards your universities total. There will be 3 funnels after you’ve finished, you simply need to make your way down the funnel allocated to your University and hand in your token.

Who wins? You will only score a point for your university if you register and wear your University colours. The University with the most participants (runners and volunteers) will be the parkrun Varsity champions!

Helpful Information for on the day

  • Register beforehand
  • Print off and bring your barcode
  • Leave bags and coats at the finish line not the start line
  • Get to the start line for 8:50am
  • Please listen carefully during the run briefing
  • It’s a run not a race, you’re an ambassador for your university. Please be considerate to other runners and park users
  • Wear your university’s colours, GREEN for Uni, PURPLE for Beckett.
  • Try to seed yourself on how fast you think you’ll be able to complete the run
  • Cross the finish line the third time it comes into sight
  • After crossing the finish line stay in order until given a finish token
  • Get your barcode and finish token scanned at your University-specific scanning station

Dream Test Debut for Alumni Toby Roland-Jones

cricket pitch at the university of leeds

University of Leeds alumni, Toby Roland-Jones, called up to the England cricket side for their latest test against South Africa, had his dream debut taking four wickets and scoring 25 runs with the bat.

Middlesex medium paced bowler, Toby Roland-Jones took an impressive four wickets in his opening 33 balls in his first Test cricket match. Within just six overs he had balanced the match heavily in England’s favour, who in the first innings set a score to chase of 353.

The wickets fell in close succession with South Africa’s Elgar caught behind off an edge followed by an LBW (leg before wicket) to send Kuhn back to the changing rooms. Amla, a triple centurion the last time he played a Test match at The Oval, was the third to fall at the hands of Roland-Jones, giving a simple catch to Jonny Bairstow. The fourth and final wicket came from another catch behind as Quinton de Kock sent the ball straight in to the hands of gully, leaving the South African innings was in tatters.

In an exceptional start to his international career, Roland-Jones not only performed with the ball, but also scored 25 runs in as many balls, including a 6, showing his true impact as a player.

Whilst at the University, Toby Roland-Jones played for the Leeds Bradford MCCU side which supports talented cricketers through their time at university.

Head of Sport Suzanne Glavin said:

“It’s fantastic to see another university alumni achieving so highly in the World of Sport. Congratulations to Toby on his incredible debut, we wish you plenty more success for the future and will certainly be keeping our eyes on your successes.”

To find out more about cricket at the University of Leeds and how you can get involved, head to our clubs page here.


Sports Park Weetwood to Host Celebrity Cricket Match

cricket pitch at the university of leeds

The University is to host a cricket game with a difference – a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the Test Match Special radio programme.

The twenty20 match will be played at Sports Park Weetwood on Thursday, August 24th, and you can enter a ballot to attend.

Cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew and batsman Geoffrey Boycott are to coach the players for the match and the teams will be captained by ex-England players Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell.

Among the players taking part are cricketers Graeme Swann, Simon Hughes and Charlotte Edwards. They will be joined by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Harry Judd from McFly and Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake.

The match is being organised by the BBC using the top class cricket facilities at Sports Park Weetwood – home to the Leeds cricketing centre of excellence which is supported by the MCC.

Known as the Leeds-Bradford MCC, it offers talented undergraduates a chance to get a degree and to benefit from elite cricket coaching, to nurture students to go on and play 1st class county cricket and ultimately for England.

Suzanne Glavin, the University’s head of Sport and Physical Activity, said:

“It is fitting that Weetwood has been chosen to host the match. It provides a golden opportunity to showcase our facilities and the expertise of our staff to some of the most influential people in cricket, demonstrating how we can support the most talented athletes into the sport by providing flexibility in their studies and first class coaching standards.”

Alumni of the cricketing centre of excellence include:

  • Fast bowler Harry Gurney – Nottingham and England
  • Steve Patterson, a stalwart of Yorkshire country cricket and a member of the championship sides of 2014 and 2015;
  • Kate Cross – who has played for Lancashire women at county level and the England team.

The Test Match Special celebration match will be broadcast on BBC TV on the red button and radio commentary will be on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra..

Admission to the ground will be by ticket only. The tickets are free but will be allocated by a random draw organised by the BBC.

To enter the draw click here

You have until 11pm on 1 August to register and you can apply for a maximum of four tickets, admission to the ground is from 3pm onwards.


Let’s Ride at the Brownlee Cycle Circuit

Brownlee Centre

British Cycling is opening up the cycle circuit at the University of Leeds’ Brownlee Centre for the first of its free-to-attend, Let’s Ride pop-up sessions next weekend.

Whether you want to ride for fun or fitness, this free monthly pop-up event gives you the chance to ride a traffic-free cycle circuit as many times as you want, at a pace that suits you. The first of which takes place on the 9th July at 12pm – 2pm and the second on August 13th.

The event is open to all ages and abilities and the circuit is easy to ride, with volunteers on hand throughout, ensuring peace of mind and safety for all cyclists.

For those wanting to take things up a gear, British Cycling Go-Ride coaches will also be available to help you improve your cycling skills, and local Ride Leaders and Breeze Champions will be there on the day to tell you more about other cycling opportunities in Leeds with HSBC UK Guided Rides and HSBC UK Breeze.

Tom Mutton, British Cycling’s partnership manager for Yorkshire, said:

“From complete beginners to those wanting to take things up a gear, the Lets Ride pop-up sessions will be an ideal way for people to discover or rediscover a love of cycling, or to improve their skills.

Regardless of age or ability, people will be able to come down to the circuit and build their confidence with the help of trained British Cycling coaches and volunteers.

The cycling facilities at the Brownlee Centre – which British Cycling helped to fund – have been extremely well utilised by the local public so far, and with this series of pop-up events and Leeds’ HSBC UK City Ride on the way, this is a really exciting time to get involved in cycling in the city.”

For those without their own bikes, bike hire is available from the venue on the day, including a fleet of tandems, trikes and hand-cycles.


  • Event times: 12pm to 2pm.
  • Parking: Yes
  • Changing facilities: Yes
  • Toilets: Yes
  • Bike hire: No bike, no problem! Bike hire is available on the day, including a fleet of tandems, trikes and hand-cycles. Simply register your free place and turn up on the day


Can you spare a couple of hours a month to help out at Let’s Ride Pop-up Leeds? Email to register your interest.



Gryphons Abroad: The Trip of a Lifetime

Gryphons Abroad Amy Grabe teaching children

Gryphons Abroad is without doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done. There is nothing I could ever write that would accurately sum up the project, or describe the amazing experiences I had. The only way to understand is to apply and experience it for yourself; I just wish I could do it every year.

Although the fundraising target of £2,000 can seem daunting there is truly no need for it to be. Whilst it is an individual target, the rest of the team are more than willing to help you in any way they can. I made a quick start on my fundraising, and this definitely paid off. I started doing cake sales in the Edge, giving me a real starting point and a confidence boost. I also applied for a Leeds for Life grant and I was awarded £500, securing almost half of my target by doing just two things. To make sure that my fundraising didn’t impact on my uni work, I designated a few hours in the evenings to planning and for the rest of my events to take place during the weekend, that way I didn’t need to do any fundraising during weekdays. To top up my fundraising total, I organised a charity afternoon tea, raffling off specially made cakes and this was definitely successful! I also did a sponsored zip wire, and wrote to local businesses telling them about the volunteering securing another £500!  Fundraising money always seems a little bit off-putting but it just takes some careful planning. It is by no means about who can put on the biggest event, it is just about giving yourself enough time to plan it all out, being thorough and realistic is key!


Amy speaking to children in South Africa


The trip to South Africa itself was just amazing, it is full on but you really do only get out what you put in; on this trip you’ve got absolutely nothing to loose and only great memories to gain! I had just as much fun as the kids we worked with, and probably even more at times, there is absolutely nothing that you don’t want to do or get involved in. What makes it even better is the team you’re with. Before the trip, none of us knew each other, but I know for a fact that I’ve made friends for life through Gryphons Abroad and its horrible to think that without this project, I most likely wouldn’t have met them! Everybody has the same goal, to make a real impact on the lives of those we’re working with, immediately giving us all a common purpose.

I decided to sign up for Gryphons Abroad 2017 after seeing a post on the VLE and I am so glad I did. I wanted to volunteer at uni, but with having so many other commitments I just couldn’t consistently give a certain number of hours each week to a society. I wanted to try something new, meet different people and make a difference whilst having fun. Gryphons Abroad 2017 went above and beyond this, it was hard work but I had the best time ever doing things I never thought I would get the chance to do.

There is no other project I know that combines teaching young people to cycle in the mountains, going to a game reserve, teaching over 100 kids how to be leaders and visiting an orphanage meeting the most incredible children and giving them things that will change their lives. I just wish I could explain the true extent of this project, but the only way to do that is to experience it for yourself!


P.s To get a real feel for the trip, have a look at our photo’s here.