Nick Beasant, Assistant Director of  Sport (Performance) visited the Olympic park as a member of the BOA Olympic Ambition Programme.

Exeter at the Olympics

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics were a huge success, from sporting excellence to logistical planning. Many University of Exeter alumni contributed towards the Olympics, across a diverse range of sectors, helping to ensure it was the greatest show on earth. 

Director of Sport Phil Attwell commented “I am incredibly proud that so many of our students and Alumni have embraced the Olympic spirit and helped to make London 2012 so special. The University of Exeter is committed to sport both on and off the field and it is fantastic to see Exeter students taking part at all levels. It has been a great year for Sport at the University and the Olympics and Paralympics have really been the icing on the cake.” The University would like to thank all those who took part in the Olympics, here are just some of our students / alumni who took part.

Sarah Thomas (Exercise and Sports Science, 2002)

Athlete and Medal Winner – Team GB Hockey

This was Sarah’s second Olympics, having also competed at Beijing in 2008. She was a pivotal member of the Women’s Team GB Bronze medal winning hockey side. Sarah played in every game and scored twice, including during the crucial Bronze medal play off against New Zealand. The medal is the first won by the British women’s hockey side since 1992 and has raised the profile of the sport around the country. During her time at Exeter, Sarah played Hockey for the University’s 1st team and was a part of the prestigious Sport Scholarship Scheme, where she received specialist support and coaching.  She helped the 1st team reach 2 BUCS Championship Finals.

Ben Ainslie (Hon LLD Law, 2005)

Athlete and Medal Winner - Team GB Sailing (Finn Class)

Having learned to sail in Cornwall at the age of 8, Ben has gone on to make history at London 2012 by winning Gold at a fourth consecutive Olympics. Ben was awarded an honorary LLD in Law by the University in 2005 in recognition of his sporting achievements.  The first Olympic Torch bearer and Team GB flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony, Ben is the most decorated Olympic Sailor ever. After a tough final race Ben commented “It was really nerve-racking. It was a really tense race. There was a lot at stake in difficult conditions and I was just glad to come through it. It's an amazing feeling and big thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years”.

Mike Vaughan (Civil Engineering, 1994)

Landscape Engineer at the Olympic Park

Now a chartered Civil Engineer, Mike led a team charged with designing wetlands and restoring the banks of the River Lee which provided the backdrop to the Olympic Park. The project was the largest wetland planting scheme ever undertaken in the UK and provided 2.3 hectares of habitat. Mike commented “It has been an amazing project. Our team has transformed what was a declining and run-down part of east London into a stunning new landscape. Even though it is in the heart of the capital, it has been designed to support a diverse range of plants and animals into the future. It is great to be part of a project which has created a real legacy for people for many years to come.”

Aaron Edgcumbe (MEng Mechanical Engineering, 2011)


When Engineering Graduate Aaron Edgcumbe visited the Olympic Park he was immediately impressed. “The atmosphere at the park was fantastic. We had tickets for the Women’s 3-metre diving heats. The Aquatics Centre was incredible and you could hear the roar every time the Team GB divers were up. Later we went down to the river and watched the Victoria Pendleton win Gold on the big screen. It was a great day, Team GB won three Gold’s and everyone was in high spirits. The volunteers and armed forces were really helpful, outgoing and approachable. It was great to be part of such an amazing event.”

Ashley Petrons (International Relations, 2007)

Torch Bearer

Ashley was nominated to be one of the 8,000 Olympic torch bearers in the run up to the games. She was selected due to her extensive and selfless charity work. Whilst at the University, Ashley ran a Community Action project around her studies to provide regular social events for elderly, isolated people with hearing and sight difficulties. She has since gone on to become an ambassador for Cancer Research and volunteers for Victim Support and Childline in her spare time. Ashley carried the torch through Dartmouth on May 20. On hearing about her selection she commented “I feel really honoured to have the opportunity to be part of history."

Sir Clive Woodward (Hon LLD Law, 2007)

Director of Elite Performance, Team GB

A British Sporting legend, Sir Clive Woodward was charged with the high profile position of Director of Elite Performance. This role has seen Sir Clive working in partnership with UK Sport and the 35 Olympic disciplines and their respective athletes, coaches and performance directors in the run up to the Games in order to maximise success for Team GB. This was Sir Clive’s third Olympics with Team GB having also been in the position for Beijing 2008 and the Vancouver- Whistler Winter Olympics in 2010. London 2012 has been an incredibly successful year for team GB which achieved 3rd place in the medal rankings with 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze medals. Sir Clive was awarded an Honorary LLD from Exeter in 2007 for his commitment to British Sport.

Nick Beasant (Geography, 1998)

Hockey Coach, Olympic Ambition Programme

Assistant Director of Performance Sport at the University of Exeter, Nick Beasant visited the Olympic Park as a member of the BOA Team GB Olympic Ambition Programme. Nick explains “The Ambition Programme focuses on preparing athletes and coaches to compete at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games or the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It aims to provide personal development and inspiration to the participants and produce a performance legacy for Team GB from the London 2012 Olympic Games. The trip to the Olympic Park and Athletes’ Village was a truly great experience and gave me a real insight into the behind scenes detail and work which goes into making Team GB successful at an Olympic Games.”

Ian Haley (Exercise and Sports Science, 2005)

Athlete - South Africa, Hockey

Ian is no stranger to international competition, having played at the 2010 World Cup and 2010 Commonwealth Games for South Africa. During London 2012 Ian was an important part of the South African hockey squad in his position as a forward. Ian plays club hockey for the University of Exeter in the England Hockey League having helped to them twice to promotion to the top Premier Division.  Whilst studying at the University of Exeter Ian was part of the Sports Scholarship Scheme, which provides young student athletes with the means to reach their full potential.

Tanya Harris (Exercise and Sports Science, 1999)

Head of Summer Sport Engagement and Deputy Chef De Mission, British Olympic Association

The Olympics is a huge logistical challenge with a whole host of planning occurring behind the scenes in the run up to, and during, the games. As Head of Summer Sport Engagement Tanya was tasked with the mammoth job of managing the relationship between the BOA and the sports to ensure everything was in place to support the 26 sports and 39 disciplines that make up Team GB. During the games Tanya was in charge of the sports in Olympic Park, welcoming and orientating British athletes and ensuring they were supported both in and out of competition. Talking about her experience Tanya said “It was amazing; to be part of it was something quite incredible. To see Team GB climbing up the medal table was extremely rewarding.” Now that London 2012 is at an end Tanya is already looking to Rio. “I’ve visited twice already and am heading out again in a couple of weeks to get a feel of the city and start planning training camps for 2016”.

Kirsten Adams (MSc Aquatic Biology and Resource Management, 2012)

Games Maker at Eton Dorney

Kirsten was GamesMaker in the Venue Communication Centre (VCC) at Eton Dorney during the Olympics. Her role involved monitoring, tracking and logging radio communications, as well as relaying and distributing important information to support the venue team. “It was an amazing experience and the atmosphere at Eton Dorney was incredible, even behind the scenes. The public responded really well to the GamesMakers and I felt as though my efforts were genuinely appreciated. Team GB’s successes in the Rowing were the icing on the cake and I’m so glad I applied for the role. The Olympics is an incredible event, I am so pleased to have been a part of it.”

Ghanaian Paralympic Team (Training Camps)

Training camp at the University of Exeter

The University of Exeter is proud to have supported the National Paralympic team of Ghana throughout their training prior to the Paralympics in London 2012. Alem Mumuni (para-cyclist), Charles Narh Teye (power lifter), Anita Fordjour (wheelchair track athlete) and Raphael Nkeghe Botsyo (wheelchair track athlete) received support from performance volunteers and Strength and Conditioning coaches. The University also provided accommodation and allowed the athletes use of the gym. The whole team were very grateful and all knocked several seconds off their PBs whilst using the excellent facilities. Raphael Nkeghe Botsyo said “We are very grateful to the many people and organizations in Exeter who have made this training camp possible.”

Crystal Lane (Exercise and Sports Science, 2011)

Paraylmpic Team GB Cycling

Having only made her international debut last year, Crystal competed in a number of C5 cycling events at the Paralympics. Crystal narrowly missed out on a medal in the Individual Pursuit, finishing a fantastic fourth. She also competed in the women’s individual time trial, finishing 9th and the C4-C5 road race where she came 6th. While at the University of Exeter Crystal studied Exercise and Sports Science and was a Sports Scholar, receiving expert advice and training from the Sports park’s dedicated performance team. On hearing of her selection Crystal said “I would like to thank all of you at Exeter for the support I’ve received up until this point and I hope I can do you all proud at the forthcoming games.”

Judith Hamer (Exeter supported TASS athlete)

Paraylmpic Team GB Wheelchair Basketball

Born in Plymouth Judith took up wheel chair basketball in 2007 after attending a British Paralympic Association-run Paralympic Potential Day. She made her debut for the British team at the Paralympic World Cup in 2009. Since then she has gone from strength to strength, winning bronze at the 2011 European Championships in Israel and in the 2009 FSB European Championships in Birmingham. The Team GB women’s basketball team finished 7th at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Judith trained at the University of Exeter as part of the Talent Athlete Scholarship Scheme. During her training she had access to some of the best sports facilities in the UK.  

Robin Williams (Current Student, PhD Statistics)

Paraylmpic Team 5 A-side Football

A current student at the University Robin has been balancing his PhD studies in Statistics with his position in Team GB’s 5-aside blind football team. In the 5-a-side team all outfield players must be classified as B1 (either no or minimal vision) with only goalie allowed to be fully sighted. Robin has been a key player in his role of winger, playing in every match at the River Bank Arena. Team GB narrowly missed a chance to get to the semi-finals at the Paralympics after a 1-0 defeat to Iran. Whilst at University Robin has been receiving top quality support from the University’s High Performance Programme along with two other Exeter based members of the team. Robin has donated one of his Paralympic playing shirts for display in the Sports Park.

Rebecca Todd (Exercise and Sports Science, 2012)

Team Liaison Officer, Columbian Ladies Football Team

Rebecca was the Team Liaison Officer for the Columbian Ladies Football Team at London 2012. Throughout the games Rebecca worked closely with the team acting as a translator. “It was a truly fantastic experience. The girls were all the same age as me and I really felt like part of the team. It was a real highlight when they let me train with them. The atmosphere in the Olympic village was electrifying and everyone was so friendly.” Following on from the Olympics Rebecca is now heading out to Columbia with the charity World Coach, a charity that uses football to help children and communities avoid drugs and crime.

Alan Pope (Strength and Conditioning coach)

Coached Tom Daley's early career

Strength and conditioning coach Alan Pope helped train Olympic star Tom Daley at the start of his career. “I worked with Tom for 4 years when he first came onto the English Institute of Sport (EIS) development programme at the age of 9. This involved travelling to Plymouth twice a week to coach Tom and the other top tier members of Plymouth Diving Club with their Strength & Conditioning programme.  I’m still in touch with Tom, Andy Banks (Tom’s Coach) and 2 other divers who also competed at London 2012, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow. To see Tom get a bronze in London was a great feeling. He has worked so hard and truly deserves this great achievement.” Alan works with the University’s high performance unit, providing elite athletes with specialist support and training.

Date: 2 October 2012