University’s Paralympians Secure Medals In Rio

University of Leeds graduates claimed three gold medals and one silver in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, with one alumni setting a new world record in the process.

Swimmer Claire Cashmore, who graduated from the University of Leeds in 2011 with a degree in Linguistics and Phonetics, secured a gold medal for TeamGB in the women’s 4x100m medley relay, helping bag the team a world record time of 4.45.23. This followed her silver medal victory in the women’s 100m breastroke just 3 days earlier.

The Leeds’ alumni second gold medal came from rower Grace Clough, a member of the mixed coxed fours team, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in Sociology.

The final Paralympic gold was claimed by hand cyclist Karen Darke, who beat the USA and Italy to secure the top spot in the women’s time trial. Karen graduated in 1992 with a degree in Chemistry and Geological Sciences.

Leeds’ two other Paralympians; Kim Daybell and Laura Sugar, also performed well, but narrowly missed out on medal placements.

Table Tennis player Kim, currently taking a year’s break from his degree in Medicine, reached the quarter finals of the men’s individual competition. Also competing in the men’s team competition, he again reached the quarter finals, the group coming fifth overall.

Runner, Laura came fifth in both the women’s T43-44 category 100m and 200m final, securing a personal best time in the 100m in process. Laura completed a Sports and Exercise Science degree and was a member of the women’s hockey club whilst at University.

The Paralympians’ medal success adds to the Leeds contingent who took part in the Olympic Games in August. Across both tournaments, graduates from the University performing with TeamGB claimed four golds and two silver medals.


Alumni Olympic Champions

brownlee brothers celebrating race together

Triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee confirmed their status as the sport’s stars on the roads of Rio yesterday, claiming gold and silver in a highly convincing Olympic win.

The brothers, who are both University of Leeds graduates and train regularly at The Edge and Sports Park Weetwood, performed strongly in the swim and the cycle sections of the race, before dominating the run and pulling away from the pack to complete the last two laps almost alone.

Alistair walked over the line in 1.45.01 while younger brother Jonny finished in 1.45.07. Bronze medallist, South African Henri Schoeman, crossed the line 40 seconds later.

The third member of the TeamGB squad was Gordon Benson, who graduated from the University this summer with a BSc in Nutrition and was performing in his first Olympics.

Congratulating the brothers on their success, Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “There could not be a better result for the Brownlees or for our city than seeing a Leeds gold and silver result in the triathlon.

“The University has played a significant role in their development and training since they studied with us, and I am delighted for both of them.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to Gordon Benson, who reached Olympic standard while studying for a demanding degree. He’s played an important role in helping the Brownlees achieve the success they have and deserves credit.”

Alistair Brownlee completed his Sport Science and Physiology degree at the University of Leeds in 2009 and studied alongside his elite level training at the Leeds Triathlon Centre.

Jonny Brownlee completed his degree in History at the University in 2012, and the same year won the International Triathlon Union world title. He is also a member of British Triathlon Squad training at the Leeds Triathlon Centre.

Both brothers along with Gordon Benson received support balancing their studies alongside training and competing internationally from our Sport Scholarship Programme whilst studying here at Leeds.

During the race itself, the University’s expertise in sports was called upon several times by the media. Dr Mark Hetherington from the Faculty of Biological Sciences explained to Sky News how the on-campus Environment Chamber helps triathletes acclimatise to weather conditions similar to those in Rio.

From January the medal winning athletes will be based at the first centre in the world dedicated to elite level triathlon training at Sports Park Weetwood. The University is working with a number of partners to renovate the existing pavilion and create a closed loop cycle track with transition area, the elite athletes from the Leeds Triathlon Centre, including Alistair, Jonny and Gordon will be based at the new facility. Funding from the University, Sport England via UK Sport and British Cycling is making the project possible.

“We will have the world’s first centre bringing together all three triathlon disciplines, which combined with the great coaches and clubs we have in Leeds will ensure we can sustain the city’s success in the sport into the future.” Said Stewart Ross, Director of Commercial and Campus Support Services at The University of Leeds.

Find out more about the new centre here. 


Gallantree takes 6th in Rio

Rebecca in Rio

University of Leeds alumna Rebecca Gallantree and her diving partner, Alicia Blagg, kicked started the British Diving’s team Olympic competition this Sunday, in the womens’ 3m synchronised springboard event.

The Chinese pair ran away with the event by a massive 32 point margin leaving it a hotly contested, 4-way fight for the bronze medal spot. The Leeds based pairing started promisingly in their first two dives, but following a number of improving dives by the Australian and Canadian Teams, the duo ended up with a respectable 6th on 292.83 points.

Student volunteer heads to Rio

University of Leeds student and women’s hockey club member, April Leeson (pictured left), is currently half-way through her 6 week stay in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. Here she is studying Portuguese through an intensive language course. This August, she will be making her way to Rio de Janeiro to participate in the Olympic Games as an official volunteer. She will be part of the accreditation team, where she will be using her language skills to welcome athletes, officials, the media and VIPs onto the park and helping to assist them during their time in Rio.

April, who studies Arabic and Spanish, said:

“This is an excellent opportunity for me to develop her foreign language and communication skills, as well as learning about South American culture, before moving into my final year at the University of Leeds”

Find out more about our Gryphons that are out in Rio here


7th University Graduate Rio Bound

Laura sugar running over the line on athletics track

Laura Sugar, who graduated from the University of Leeds in 2012 has been selected to represent Team GB at the Rio Paralympic Games this September.

Laura who previously competed for Wales in the national Hockey side swapped her stick for the track in 2012 and hasn’t looked back, recently winning Silver in the 2016 Muller Anniversary Games.

Laura competes in the 200m T44 Classification and will be taking centre stage on the 14th September when she represents Great Britain at the Paralympics for the first time in her career.

Find out more about Laura and the seven other athletes from the University competing in Rio on our webpage here.

Leeds Dominates Olympic Triathlon Team

brownlee brothers celebrating race together

With less than 60 days to go until Rio 2016 British Triathlon have announced who will represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games this summer and all three men are from the University of Leeds.

The men’s team includes defending Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee and his brother Jonny who are both alumni of the University of Leeds. The third and highly contested spot in the team has been given to current student Gordon Benson who will be competing at his first Olympic Games this summer. The GB team will be aiming to better their double medal haul of Gold and Bronze at London 2012.

Alongside the men’s team will be Non Stanford, Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins who make up the GB women’s team. Non and Vicky are part of the Leeds Triathlon Centre alongside Alistair, Jonny and Gordon. This elite training centre for top triathletes in the UK is a collaboration between the University of Leeds, British Triathlon, and Leeds Beckett University which gives athletes access to the best coaches, facilities and training environments to achieve their world class ambitions.

Leeds will have the chance to see these great athletes in action on Sunday when the ITU World Triathlon Series comes to the city. With the full men’s team, Non and Vicky set to race against the worlds elite.

“The investment the University of Leeds has made over the last 5 years has placed us at the forefront of world triathlon, in terms of training facilities and coaching as well as the opportunities for our students to study a world-class degree and be engaged with the sport at every level”

Patrick Craig, Assistant Head of Sport at The University of Leeds


Find out more about how the University has supported these athletes throughout their studies here.

Daybell takes Bronze in Slovenian Open

Kim daybel paralympic table tennis player

University of Leeds student and sports scholar Kim Daybell has recently won a bronze medal in the Slovenian open. This victory included a superb win over the world number 2, standing him in excellent stead for the upcoming Rio Paralympics.

The GB Para Table Tennis Team picked up four medals in the team events on the final day of the Open leaving GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko very satisfied with his team’s performance:

“This is like a small Rio Games before the Paralympics in September. We had 90% of the top players here who will compete in Rio and in some classes we had all the top players here.

It is also good to know that we can beat all the top players, for example Kim Daybell beating the top Chinese player in men’s class 10. This is showing me where we are and what we need to do for the next four months and it is good to know we are on the right track.”

Keep an eye on our news stories to hear more about Kim Daybells journey to Rio!

Ben Sneesby – the road to the Paralympics

Paralympic skier and University of Leeds Sports Scholar, Ben Sneesby, is one step closer to achieving his Paralympic dream following his recent gold medal in the men’s slalom sitting race at the IPC Alpine Skiing British National Championship at the end of March. This event is part of the wider Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships, the biggest event of the year for the British Ski racing world, taking place in Tignes, France. Ben is currently juggling his University studies with trying to reach the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics in 2018.

“I was at Sochi, so PyeongChang is definitely on my radar as well and I want to improve and perform better than I did at Sochi.”

Ben Sneesby (Sports Scholar)

We look forward to hearing more about Ben’s journey to PyeongChang!

Kim Daybell Selected for Rio 2016

Kim daybel paralympic table tennis player

Kim Daybell, University of Leeds student and Sports Scholar has been selected to represent Paralympics GB in Table Tennis at the Rio2016 Games. 

Kim will compete alongside 11 others as part of the Great Britain team. Following a great start to the year where Kim won bronze in the Lignano Master Open in Italy and was crowned national champion he was thrilled to receive the news he had been selected.

It feels amazing. It is the culmination of 4 years of blood, sweat and tears and to be named as a GB paralympian for a second time is such an honor. It is the biggest stage in sport and I’m over the moon to be part of the squad heading out to Brazil.

My aim for Rio is to be the best athlete I can be and do my country proud. Of course I will be aiming to win a medal and I believe if I perform on the day I will able to achieve it. The level in the world is so high but we have had great preparation and I will be quietly confident going into the games.

Rio 2016 will be Kim’s second Paralympic games having previously competed in London 2012 and the University will be supporting him all the way.

Kim is currently taking a break from studying Medicine at Leeds to train with the national able bodied team in Slovenia. This has been made possible through the support Kim received from the University and through his Sport Scholarship which is funded by the Leeds Alumni department and specifically by Alumni Dr. Steve Ledger.

Tweet fro Kim Daybell about how supportive the university and leeds sport have been

To hear more from Kim tune into BBC Radio Leeds this Friday around 8.15am.