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Road to Rio: Bristol's top athletes prepare for the Olympics

Top (l-r): Tom Mitchell, Georgie Twigg, Lawrence Clarke. Bottom (l-r): Hannah Mills, Andrew Pozzi, Jazmin Sawyers. Warren Little/Getty

Press release issued: 3 August 2016

Eight alumni from the University of Bristol are making their final preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which officially get underway on Friday [5 August].

Georgie Twigg won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, having joined the GB women's hockey team in 2010 whilst studying Law at the University. Since the 2012 games, she has completed her Legal Practitioner's Course, won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games, a European gold, and has a training contract with international law firm Bird & Bird, which is on hold whilst she continues to pursue her dream of Olympic gold.

Jazmin Sawyers is the University's most recent alumna heading to Rio, having just graduated this summer with a 2.1 in Law. Jazmin, 22, secured her place in Team GB with a personal best leap of 6.75m to win the long jump at the British Championships in June. She won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Engineering graduate Hannah Mills will also be competing for Team GB in the sailing alongside her partner Saskia Clarke.  Hannah and Saskia were proud to be one of the first GBR teams to be selected for Rio. Hannah started sailing at just eight-years-old and by the time she was 14 she had won her first World Championships in the Optimist class. Hannah and Saskia were silver medallists in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

At the age of 18, 110m hurdler Lawrence Clarke took up athletics rather late in comparison to most elite athletes, balancing training with studying for his Theology and Religious Studies degree. Lawrence narrowly missed out on a medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, coming a very respectable 4th place. Prior to this he won a gold medal at the Junior European Championships, and bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Fellow 110m hurdler Andrew Pozzi booked his place at Rio 2016 after winning the British Championships with a personal best time of 13.31 seconds. He was the 2012 UK 60m and 110m champion and holds the record for the fastest ever time run by a UK junior hurdler. After picking-up an injury just before London 2012, he’s sights are set on doing well in Rio.

Three alumni will be competing in Rugby 7s, which will see its Olympic debut in Rio. Tom Mitchell will be captaining the Great Britain team, while Humphrey Kayange will be representing Kenya, and Juliano Fiori will be on the home nation's squad, Brazil.

Tom, who didn't start playing at a high level until he was at university, says representing Great Britain in Rio 2016 will be a childhood dream come true. Humphrey, who was Captain for the Kenya Rugby 7s on the International Rugby Board (IRB) circuit for six years, came to know about the University of Bristol through their rugby team which takes part in a tournament in Kenya every year. Classics graduate Juliano, who grew up in the UK playing rugby union, made his 7s debut in Dubai in 2014 and is now Head of Humanitarian Affairs at Save the Children.

Many of the athletes on their way to Rio have been part of the University of Bristol's Performance Squad, a programme designed to support talented athletes during their time at university, helping them to balance academic work and sporting commitments.

Matt Paine, Performance Sport Manager at the University, said: "It's really exciting to have so many alumni competing in Rio and we're hugely proud of their achievements so far. They're all at the top of their game and if they continue to improve then any one of them could be up there on the podium.

"Past and present University of Bristol students won a total of five medals at London 2012, which was a huge achievement, so fingers crossed for similar success in Rio this summer."

Further information

You can follow the progress of all our athletes via our Olympics page.