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Nick Thompson will compete for Team GB in Sailing after becoming British Laser World Champion in 2015

Exeter students and alumni to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Six Exeter students and alumni will compete for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Nick Thompson (Exercise & Sport Sciences, 2008), Sophie Ainsworth (Exercise and Sport Sciences, 2010) and Nicola Groves (Human Biosciences, 2010) will all compete in Sailing; current student Luke Treharne will feature in the Rugby Sevens squad; Issy Bailey (English, 2016) will compete in the Paralympics in Shooting, and Honorary Graduate Jo Pavey will become the first British track athlete to compete at five Olympic Games. 

Between them, the three sailors will cover three categories: Laser (Thompson), 49erFX (Ainsworth) and Nacra17 (Groves). In 2015, Nick Thompson became the first British Laser World Champion in six years and, as a double World Champion, is on good form ahead of the competition in Rio. Sophie Ainsworth won Gold at the 470 European Championships in 2012 with teammate and fellow Exeter alumna Sophie Weguelin, having won Bronze together at the ISAF World Cup Regatta in Miami earlier in the year. At the latter event, Nicola Groves and her teammate competed in the 49erFX and also took home a Bronze medal. The University of Exeter has a proud tradition in sailing and provides opportunities for all young sailors to attain RYA qualifications. Consistently ranking within the top 3 institutions in BUCS for sailing, Exeter’s High Performance Programme boasts a pedigree of up and coming sailors, ensuring that the University will continue to be represented at the highest level in this and other focus sports.

Luke Treharne will join the British Rugby Sevens Squad as a travelling reserve, adding this to a long list of accomplishments. He has previously represented GB at the 2012 World University Championships, the 2013 Summer Universiade (also known as the World University Games) and the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and captained Wales in the 2015 Rugby Sevens World Series. During his time at Exeter, Luke has played for the University’s 1st team (15s and 7s) and has received support from the Rugby High Performance Programme. Rugby is one of Exeter’s nine focus sports, and in the 2015/16 British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) rankings the institution was ranked 1st for Rugby overall, having also won the BUCS Championship at Twickenham.

Issy Bailey has overcome real adversity to claim her position in Team GB. Issy has always been a talented sportswoman, and in her first year at University she represented Exeter in Hockey. While still a student, Issy was involved in a car accident which left her unable to walk, but after taking a year out, Issy returned to Exeter to complete her degree and was determined to pursue her interest in sport. With support from our Strength & Conditioning coaches, Issy has developed her skills in Shooting to the extent that she has been selected to compete in the Paralympic Shooting squad later this year. Her story is truly inspirational and the University is proud to have supported her development and to have been a part of her sporting journey. Her friends and coaches at Exeter will be excited to see Issy bring her incredible determination, skills and enthusiasm to the competition in Rio.

Honorary graduate Jo Pavey MBE is an inspiration to athletes around the globe, but particularly in the South West of England; Jo is a lifelong member of Exeter Harriers Athletics Club, where Exeter students train and receive coaching. Commenting on the University being The Times and The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2016, Jo said, “At the elite level of sport keeping abreast of the latest research really does boost performance. The University of Exeter is world leading in this area with research that’s used in the real world and has real impact for athletes like me. Physiological testing to shape and fine tune my training has really helped me in my performance. At the same time the University is helping nurture the next generation of sporting excellence.” Jo will compete in the 10,000 metres and at age 42, she will become the first British track athlete to compete at five Olympic games.

The University of Exeter Sports Scholarship Scheme is one of the most prestigious in the UK, helping the best student athletes reach their full potential. The scheme provides a comprehensive support package and is tailored to suit the needs of each individual athlete. Many of our graduating scholars have progressed to a professional level in their chosen sport and represented their respective countries on the global stage.

The University of Exeter has been awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2016, following significant investment and development over the past 10 years. The University has also achieved a Global 100 ranking in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The prestigious rankings, which mean Exeter retains its position as best in the South West, take into account a wide range of factors, including student satisfaction and research excellence. 

Date: 29 July 2016