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New role to focus on performance sport

UEA’s top student sporting talent is receiving more support since the appointment of Sophie Thomas to the new role of Student Performance Sport Manager in January.

In 2017, UEA was awarded Participation Programme of the Year from the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) in recognition of the opportunities available for students to get involved in sport. This led to an increase of students participating in sport and therefore a greater number going on to perform at the top level.

“I’m really excited by the prospect of this new role and the chance to grow performance sport at UEA,” said Sophie. “There are just under 4,000 students participating in clubs and I will be working with the highest level of these students. This can range from finishing within the top 10-12 in the country right the way through to competing internationally for team GB. 

“These students can be supported in a number of ways and this is a great opportunity for Sportspark to collaborate with the whole University. We have a great range of specialist practitioners and world leading research that could help develop a unique programme for our scholars. I’m keen to build on the existing relationship we have with the School of Health Sciences who could support further though providing physiotherapy sessions and specialist advice on nutrition.

“Mental health is a huge factor in performance sport and students can be put under immense pressure when competing at a high level while also studying for a degree. I’m a qualified Mental Health in Sport Trainer and will work closely with the students to identify when they need additional support.

“A big part of my role will be managing the scholarship scheme. This year we have 16 students on the scheme and the funding has helped them cover the costs attributed to their sport. In addition we offer access to a workshop programme designed to upskill in areas such as nutrition, foam rolling, strength and conditioning, management opportunities and massage.

“This is not just about getting students to achieve the best they can while at UEA, it’s also an investment in students who may reach their peak in their twenties, depending on their sport, and it’s our job to put them in the best position to achieve this. We will be working closely with alumni to build a network of athletes and will be launching our first ever alumni sports day this year.

“Our aim is to extend UEA’s reputation as an institution known for its sporting achievements and which provides a supportive environment for top-level athletes.”