Leeds Sports Awards Winners

to men standing together in rugby and american football kit

The 2018 Leeds Sports Awards was a big day for sport in Leeds as the city celebrated the achievements of athletes, coaches and sports volunteers in 2017.

Celebrations took place in the First Direct Arena where sports-people of all levels and abilities from across the city alongside their coaches, volunteers, sponsors and supporters all came together to celebrate Leeds’ proud sporting heritage and commend the achievements of this year’s nominees in true style.

A whole host of awards were up for grabs and many of the nominees have been involved with the University of Leeds over the years. Alumni, current students and honorary degree holders were nominated over a diverse range of categories giving them plenty of opportunity for recognition of all their efforts and achievements in sport.

The winners and nominees

One of the biggest successes of the evening was the nomination and win from our very own Rugby League and American Football teams. They beat off some fierce competition from Leeds Beckett University Hockey to jointly win the ‘Student Sport Award’  for all their hard work on the ‘It’s ok not to be ok’ campaign, highlighting the positive power of sport. Their campaign has promoted the importance of mental health awareness across the University and got people talking, as well as raising thousands of pounds, for mental health charities. This award gives them recognition from across the city for the fantastic work they are doing.

Jess Bassett, Activities Officer at Leeds University Union said:

It has been an absolute privilege to get to know and work along side Andrew and Aaron on the it’s OK not be OK campaign. It was amazing to see all of the hard work and fundraising efforts from both clubs recognised when they won this award. This campaign has increased the awareness of male mental health in particular and raised money for two very special charities, and alongside celebrating this success we must keep working hard to tackle this because it is OK not to be OK.

On the night Jess Learnmouth won the sportswoman award, Jess trains with the Leeds Triathlon Centre at the University’s facilities including The Edge and The Brownlee Centre. She took home the award beating a number of fantastic athletes including Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams OBE who received an honorary degree from the University in 2015.

Cecilia Allen a Leeds alumna received a highly commended award in the Young Club Team Performance award with the Yorkshire CCC U17 girls, a team she manages. Fellow alumni Dr Malcolm Brown MBE and Jack Maitland also received a highly commended award in the Performance Coach award for their work with triathletes at the Leeds Triathlon Centre. The triathlon theme continued in Tom Bishop who graduated from Leeds in 2013 and was nominated for the Sportsman of the Year award.

The night was a fantastic celebration of sport and a wonderful evening for all. We send a huge congratulations to all the finalists and we are hoping for even more success next year.

A full list of the winners can be found on the Leeds Sports Awards website.


University Sport Scholars Celebrated

University of Leeds group shot of sport scholars

This week the University of Leeds Sports Scholars were celebrated at a presentation evening hosted by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Yu.

Over 60 students from a a range of academic schools studying everything from Medicine and Surgery to Engineering have been awarded Sports Scholarships. These scholarships support them in their athletic and academic ventures, enabling them to perform at their highest sporting ability alongside their studies.

The evening celebrated these athletes and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu gave a talk about how he believed that sport is a global language and we as a University are proud to support these athletes in their endeavours across the globe, wishing them every success for the years ahead both in their academic and sporting careers.

Kim Daybell playing table tennis

The evening also celebrated two students; Kim Daybell and Tyler Smith who are preparing to fly to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games next month. Kim will be representing England in Table Tennis and Tyler will be representing Bermuda in Triathlon, a fantastic achievement made possible by their commitment to their sports, as well as their academic schools having the flexibility to allow them to go and compete.

Kim has been a Sport Scholar at the University for 7 years and he shared his experiences about his time here at Leeds, encouraging all the scholars sat in the room to work hard to achieve their sporting dreams and to utilise the support available to them through the Sport Scholarship programme. Kim emphasised how much the University had helped and supported him and without this he would not have been able to train and compete at two Paralympic Games; London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity said:

“It was a great celebratory event of our gifted and talented Sport Scholars, made extra special this year being able to wish both Tyler and Kim good luck for their endeavours at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. It seemed so fitting to be hosted by our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Relations, Professor Yu who was a very welcomed guest and spoke eloquently about how proud the University are of our sporting scholars as they represent us across the world in the sporting arena”

This year the University has over 60 scholars competing across a huge range of sports, from snowboarding to canoe polo and everything in-between. They compete at a range competitions individually and with their university team while working towards their sporting goals which they set at the beginning of the year.

The Sports Scholarship programme at the University of Leeds provides all our scholars with a bespoke package of support that meets each individuals needs. Following the University’s unique approach every athlete is given a personal mentor who helps ensure that a healthy balance between University work and sporting success is achieved. Our scholars are also supported with free Edge access, physiotherapy and a personalised strength and conditioning programme as well as a bespoke bursary to help ensure they can meet the financial demands of performance sport.

We hope that soon some of our other scholars will be joining Kim and Tyler competing and achieving great things all over the globe.  

Take a look at all our Sport Scholars below and find out more about our Sport Scholarship programme online.

Contract signing for Leeds gryphon Felix Titherley

Former Leeds gryphon Felix Titherley has recently signed a professional contract with the Rostock Griffins of the GFL (German Football League). He will be playing at the highest level of American Football competition outside North America and it will be an exciting challenge for Felix. His new contract comes after a 5-year career in representing the University of Leeds in American Football and gaining a place on the Great Britain Lions roster in January 2017.

His sporting achievements have been assisted through continuing support from Leeds Sport, particularly with strength and conditioning coaching. Felix trains at least six times a week in the Gryphon Room, working with S&C coach Max Roger. Max shared his delight for Felix’s new opportunity:

Felix Titherley + Max

‘I’m happy and excited for Felix. He has shown how you can achieve your goals by working towards them with consistent, hard work. He is an extremely hard worker and a true 24/7 athlete. He has been doing everything that he can in and out of the gym to be the best that he can be.’

Through continuing training, Felix has gained the strength and athletic ability he will need to compete at the next level. Felix’s dedication to the sport has allowed him to make great improvements and proved him to be an accomplished athlete. The university wishes him the best of success in his new and exciting career. We hope to hear great things in the future.

Win £50 Amazon and Refresh vouchers

Balancing life survey complete to win £50 amazon and refresh voucers - text on a picture of someone walking on grass

Help us to support your activity and wellbeing on campus by filling out the 2018 Balancing Life Survey. Plus you could win a £50 Amazon Voucher or Refresh Card!

Last year’s Balancing Life Survey found that 77% of staff and students at the University of Leeds are active, with 60% of the activity they take part in happening on campus. A survey of this type had never been completed before and it gave great insight into the activity and wellbeing levels of staff and students. Take a look at the full results online here.

The insight gained from last year’s survey has raised the importance of staff and students health and wellbeing on campus, and this has had some fantastic results;

  • The Student Education Services have appointed two full time interns with a focus on improving staff health and wellbeing.
  • The University of Leeds, via the Wellbeing, Safety and Health department are about to recruit a full time role for promoting staff health and wellbeing.
  • Results helped raise the importance of staff being more active and promoting health and wellbeing to colleagues in their own teams as demonstrated by the hundreds of Healthy Week Heroes we had.
  • Sport and Physical Activity has seen an increase in schools across the University engaging with the staff wellness programme

These are all great steps forward and this year’s survey will help to give even further insight and see if there has been a change in results from last year.

This year’s survey is now live for staff and students to complete until the 18th March and all students who fully complete the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win one of three £50 Amazon Vouchers, and staff will be entered into a prize draw to win one of three £50 Refresh card vouchers for buying food and drinks on campus. Fill out the survey now!

All survey responses are anonymous and will be used to provide the University with the insight to provide programmes and offers that fit the wants and needs of the staff and students at the University of Leeds.


Korfball’s big day out to BUCS regionals

It was an exciting and successful weekend for Leeds Gryphons Korfball Club as they challenged the best teams from across the North and Scotland.

On the 2nd of December Leeds University Korfball Club took 3 teams to Manchester for the qualifying round of the BUCS National Korfball Tournament. The first team were able to showcase their talents as one the best university teams in the country, storming their way through the tournament unbeaten to the top spot. The champion side also claimed the titles of top male and female scorer. Former President and current first team captain Jacob Cooke shared his excitement;

“Such an amazing day for Leeds Korfball, Leeds university 1’s coming 1st overall and qualifying for 1st tier nationals and Leeds university 2’s beating numerous other 1st teams to finish 5th and qualify for 2nd tier nationals. All Leeds University teams played so well, outperforming previous years dramatically. This year could be the most successful in the clubs history and we are excited to see how Leeds Uni 1’s, 2’s and 3’s do at their nationals!”

The second team had a much tougher time in their bid for qualification starting the tournament with a couple of tough losses and a draw. They desperately needed a win in their last game against Lancaster to guarantee qualification. The match strayed away from the game plan with the second team finding themselves on the wrong side of a two-goal deficit. At 5-3 they fought back to 5-5 but a draw would not be enough to qualify. With time and hope running out, Club President scored a last-gasp wonder goal to guarantee qualification to the nationals. The success proved a delight to all involved, particularly Second Team Captain Harriet who said;

“I am so proud of the energy and enthusiasm that our teams displayed. Everyone played the best Korfball of their seasons and the support from side lines was phenomenal”

The third team made a valiant effort in their debut tournament. The majority of the team is made up of beginners who have only just started playing the sport this year. Although they are still finding the ropes of the game they played incredibly, going toe to toe with some of the best teams in the country. They won their first ever game against a strong Manchester side and secured a draw in a scrappy derby game against our very own second team.

What’s next for Korfball?

The first and second teams will be competing at the BUCS national trophy finals on the 4th of March. They will be competing against the top 16 universities in the country and we are looking for a top 8 finish. It has already been a successful year for korfball and we are not ready to give up yet.

University host junior parkrun

children running

Ten years ago the Sport and Physical Activity service at the University of Leeds started the third parkrun in the country on Woodhouse Moor. Since then parkrun has grown rapidly with 202,495 events in 17 countries worldwide! 

Following the University’s close relationship with parkrun and the opening of The Brownlee Centre and Cycle Circuit last year, Sport and Physical Activity and parkrun have teamed up once again, this time to launch a junior parkrun. The Bodington junior parkrun will take place on the University’s cycle circuit where children (aged 4-14yrs) will complete a 2km loop.

parkrun is all about inclusiveness, wellbeing and bringing together people in the community, the Bodington Cycle Circuit is the perfect location to achieve this with the tarmac circuit used for the run and The Brownlee Centre providing an indoor space for a drink and place to talk after the event.

The University invested £5m to create these facilities last year and one of the key aims is to provide space for members of the local community to use. Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at The University of Leeds said;

“We are committed to providing facilities where we can, for keeping the local community as active as they can be. So we are delighted to be able to support and host the Bodington Junior parkrun.”

Sport & Physical Activity have provided the £3k funding to launch this parkrun, which has bought the equipment needed to run the event. They are also providing the facilities for free, displaying their commitment to providing opportunities for children to be active.

“Encouraging children to be physically active at an early age is creating habits for life. We are keen to do this alongside encouraging young people to be aspirational about coming to study for a world class degree at the University of Leeds.

parkrun is a great inclusive offer; I love taking part in my local parkrun on Saturday mornings and would encourage everyone to get involved as a participant, a volunteer or a supporter.”

Suzanne Glavin

The Bodington junior parkrun launches this Sunday (25 February) at 9am and if you would like to get involved all you need to do is register on the website here. You only need to do this once then just turn up on the day.


Commonwealth Selection for Kim Daybell

Kim daybel paralympic table tennis player

Kim Daybell’s latest success in selection for the Commonwealth Games.

After reaching the quarter finals of the men’s individual in Rio back in 2016 and successfully gaining 2 silver medals in the PTT US Open, Kim Daybell is back. In April 2018 Kim will be off to Australia with England’s Table Tennis team to play in the Commonwealth Games. Clearly delighted he shared his thrill in being selected for the team;

“I’m really excited. It’s the first time para has had a standing event. To be part of the first one is going to be very exciting and to go to Australia will be a good trip. It will be nice to stand side by side with the able-bodied players and get the same coverage and the same recognition.

We are representing England rather than GB and it will be interesting to see if it has a different feel to it. We could play against our colleagues from Scotland or Wales, who we’ve never had to play against before. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Athlete Kim Daybell ready to serve holding table tennis bat and ball

Kim will be making his Commonwealth debut in Australia competing alongside 10 fellow team members who between them will be challenging 9 medals over the course of the competition. Team England are confident of success and believe Kim and his fellow athletes will provide strong competition. The University of Leeds is supporting Kim along the way and wishes him the best of success in the upcoming Games.

Mantality retreat success

Group of males wearing matching t-shirts holding giftbags at mantality retrea

Last weekend, three University of Leeds students journeyed to Weetwood Hall Hotel to partake in a three-day retreat with Leeds Rhinos legend Stevie Ward to look into male mental health. The Mantality retreat aims to encourage men to be more open and honest with each other consequently helping them to achieve a greater sense of control over their lives and empowering them to achieve their best.

The participants on the retreat expressed a range of reasons for wanting to take this fantastic opportunity, seeing it as a way to push their own boundaries by doing something that they didn’t feel comfortable with. By attending with an open mind they were encouraged to look at their past, present and future experiences and how this has affected their ideas of masculinity. 

So what was it all about?

The weekend was composed of a range of activities to increase self-awareness. From yoga to meditation workshops, each challenged ideas of manliness. This opportunity allowed everyone to be inspired to do things they wouldn’t normally do as men, and most importantly talk.

The group were encouraged to speak about their thoughts through a ‘men’s circle’. This offered the opportunity to share their feelings and allow themselves to be vulnerable in a safe and comforting environment. Feedback from our students told that all those taking part felt as though they were able to share their experiences. Working together to find ways of fulfilling their potential, they were able to remove limiting beliefs of what it means to be a man.

Andrew Marks, the Charity Secretary for Leeds University Rugby League, reflected on the weekend:

“I learnt that’s it is OK to be open about your feelings, to be vulnerable, and to have issues. I learnt a lot about myself, moving on from the past and how to be more present in today’s society.  We discovered how to really focus on our lives moving forward and it helped me realise how to be the best version of myself. I discovered how to be myself and take off the mask we put on to society. Summed up by an Oscar Wilde quote, ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’”

A huge thanks to the footsteps fund for giving our students this fantastic opportunity. Also a special thank you to Stevie and the Mantality team for running this incredible programme.

International Student Exercise Classes Success

This Christmas, the University of Leeds flagship fitness facility – The Edge, offered a unique series of free exercise classes for its international students and the wider Leeds Global Community.

The classes included the ever popular, Les Mills Body Pump and Body Combat along with some brand new virtual led classes taught in Mandarin. The University of Leeds has invested significantly in their Group Exercise Timetable providing one of the largest programmes in the country, with over 220 classes on offer per week during term time.

Suzanne Glavin (Head of Sport) said; “It’s really important that we make sure that our sport and group exercise class provision at the University of Leeds meets all our students’ needs, including our international students. We were grateful and delighted to capitalise upon our strong collaborative working with Les Mills. We were delighted that we could pilot their excellent virtual classes, and be the first to launch those taught in Mandarin. Our international Chinese students who remained in Leeds over the Christmas period enjoyed a taste of home through taking part in Mandarin virtual group exercise classes“.

The Edge now has a fully kitted out virtual studio, offering a range of virtual classes for both beginners and the more experienced exercise class goer.

155 class bookings were made over the two weeks of Christmas for this new venture and feedback received from the students was resoundingly positive.


I think it’s a really brilliant idea to put these classes during December, especially for international students. I really enjoyed the class, there were loads of weights and bars available which was good. I would definitely attend again! Thanks for putting them on!” – Miranda

I attended two virtual classes and they were very good, especially that the instructions were in Mandarin. I enjoyed them and realised that I really need more exercises. I’d like to book again if similar classes will be available in the future” – Huiming 

The Edge has been recognised at the National  Fitness Awards over three consecutive years, coming runner-up in the National Group Exercise Award category in 2017.


Leeds Sports Awards Sponsor

We are proud to be supporting the city’s annual sports awards this March, where hundreds of people will come together to celebrate the success of athletes, volunteers, coaches and spectators over the past year.

At the event we are sponsoring the club/team performance award which has the following finalists:

  • East Leeds Swimming Club (Masters)
  • Leeds Gymnastics Club
  • Matty Lee & Lois Toulson

You can see the full list of finalists on the Leeds Sports Awards website. We wish all the finalists good luck for the night and look forward to celebrating everyone’s success over the past year.

The University of Leeds is a key partner of Sport Leeds; the district activity partnership for the city. We work collaboratively alongside the other Sport Leeds partners towards the shared vision to make Leeds the most active big city in England, by making sport and physical activity accessible for everyone.

Supporting events such as the Leeds Sports awards cements our commitment to this vision and our partnership with the city.