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High-five! Medal collection puts Bristol among the best

Gold and bronze medallist Laura Bechtolsheimer

Gold and bronze medallist Laura Bechtolsheimer Getty Images

Silver medallist Hannah Mills

Silver medallist Hannah Mills Getty Images

Silver medallist Iain Percy

Silver medallist Iain Percy Getty Images

Press release issued: 13 August 2012

Past and present University of Bristol students won a total of five medals at London 2012, an achievement which puts the University among the most successful in the country. Only four institutions across the UK had alumni who managed to win so many medals according to Podium, the further and higher education unit for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Only four institutions across the UK had alumni who managed to win so many medals according to Podium, the further and higher education unit for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Its league table placed Bristol in 10th position, surpassed only by those whose students secured more golds.

Gordon Trevett, High Performance Manager at the University of Bristol, said: “I thought our athletes would win two or three medals at best, so to finish the Games with five medals is a phenomenal achievement. Bristol doesn’t get recognised as a university which produces top sports people but we’re clearly doing the right things to support our athletes during their time here.

“This success gives me great hope for future athletes coming through our programme. The support we offer is second to none and this amazing collection of medals is testament to that.”

Contributing to Bristol University’s success was dressage star Laura Bechtolsheimer, who won gold in the team dressage and an individual bronze.

The 27-year-old, who graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Philosophy and Politics, played an integral part in helping GB's equestrian team end with three Olympic titles - two in dressage and a showjumping team gold. These were GB's first-ever individual dressage medals.

Sailor Hannah Mills won a silver in the women’s 470 sailing with partner Saskia Clark. The 24-year-old deferred the final year of her Engineering degree to focus on her sailing ambitions.

Fellow sailor Iain Percy also won a silver. The former Economics student, who studied at Bristol between 1995 and 1998, was aiming for a hat trick after winning gold at both the Sydney and Beijing Olympics, but he and partner Andrew Simpson lost out on the gold in the last few seconds of the final race.

And hockey player Georgie Twigg played well throughout the Olympics to help the women’s GB hockey team win a bronze medal. Georgie worked hard to complete her final exams while training intensively with her teammates ahead of the Games.

Tutors allowed her to split the final year of her law degree over two years and arranged for all her seminars and tutorials to be on a Friday to accommodate her intense training schedule.

Although he just missed out on a medal, another London 2012 success story was hurdler Lawrence Clarke. Despite coming into the Games ranked 20th in the world for the 110m hurdles event, he managed to come fourth in the finals and hit the headlines for being the fastest European in the event with a personal best of 13.31secs which he set in the semi finals.

It marks a remarkable journey for the former Theology and Religious Studies graduate, who was ranked 63rd in the country when he came to Bristol four years ago.

Claire Hallissey, 29, who completed a PhD in Immunology between 2006 and 2010, ran the marathon in a time of 2.35.39, handing her a 57th place finish in the event.

All of these sporting alumni have been members of the High Performance Squad of athletes at Bristol University, which helps talented student athletes continue with their sporting careers without compromising their academic progress. The HPS receive advice on everything from nutrition to sports psychology, not to mention training from top coaches, sports medicine services and financial support.

Gordon, who works in the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health, said: “The success at London 2012 has been a huge boost and shows that our High Performance programme works. We try to improve an athlete’s personal best for every year that they’re here. Credit and thanks should go to all our coaches who have had a strong hand in helping our Olympians achieve success.

“Everybody exceeded expectations and, whilst training hard during their time at Bristol University, they also managed to achieve academic success as part of their inspirational journey to the Olympic Games.”

  • Vittoria Panizzon (BSc 2005), 28, represented Italy in equestrian eventing and came 11th overall.
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