When the eyes of the world turned on the West Sands for a few brief moments during Danny Boyle’s spectacular Opening Ceremony four years ago, you may have been forgiven for thinking that was the closest St Andrews has got to the Olympics. Well think again – Development & Alumni Relations Intern Naomi Boon has been investigating…
After the excitement of London 2012, when the Olympic torch passed through the streets of St Andrews and our very own St Salvator’s Quad, the Games have moved on to Rio. However, the St Andrews association continues, with graduates and associates of the University competing in both the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Photo courtesy of the University of St Andrews
Charlotte Taylor (MA 2008, MLitt 2009) represented Team GB in her first Olympic games this year in the rowing lightweight double skull with partner Kat Copeland. This is only her third season with the GB rowing team, and whilst the pair failed to win a medal this time around, she is an inspiration for the Boat Club here, and indeed for all student athletes.
Photo courtesy of British Rowing
Clare Cunningham (MA 2000) will be competing in Rio 2016 in the first Para Triathlon to be held in the Games. After an early career in international swimming, winning gold at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona with a world record time in the S9 50m freestyle, she went on to study English at St Andrews and much later, whilst balancing a full time career in London, became involved in Para Triathlon. In 2009 she became World Para Triathlon Champion and looks forward to competing in this year’s Paralympic games in September.
Photo courtesy of clare-cunningham.co.uk
Paralympian track and field athlete Gemma Prescott, who graduated from St Andrews in 2006 with a Master’s degree in Maths, is competing in her third Paralympics in Rio in F32 throwing events, after representing Team GB in Beijing and London.
Open recurve archer, Tania Nadarajah (MA 2002), who won bronze at the 2016 European Championships will be competing in her first Paralympic games in Rio after taking up archery as a hobby in 2014.
Photo courtesy of Archery GB
Finally, Katherine Grainger (LLD Hon 2013), who holds an honorary degree from the University, has just won silver with her double scull partner, Victoria Thornley, making her the most decorated British female athlete of all time!
Photo courtesy of BBC Sport
These athletes continue the trend of a long history of Olympians with a strong St Andrews connection. Retired staff member, Jack Ferguson, was part of the British Water Polo Team at the 1952 and 1956 Olympic games, and of course, our present Chancellor, The Rt Hon Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE PC QC, is a former British record holder for the 100m sprint (1967-74), and competed at the 1964 Olympic games in Tokyo in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay.
Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave, both honorary graduates of the University, are in Rio as part of the BBC’s coverage team, keeping us up to date with all of the latest action. Redgrave won gold at five consecutive Olympics from 1984 to 2000, while Sir Chris Hoy is the most successful British Olympian of all time with six cycling golds from 2004 to 2012.
Photo courtesy of BBC Sport
This Olympics has seen the reintroduction of Golf to the Games for the first time in 112 years, and the addition of Rugby Sevens this year has raised the profile of the sport enormously, especially the women’s game. Over the three days of extensive coverage of the Women’s Sevens, Scottish Rugby had over 60 enquiries from girls and women in Scotland about how they can get involved in the sport. Despite Team GB missing out on a medal, this is the kind of inspiration the girls were hoping to provide, involving more women in rugby across the world.
Photo courtesy of teamgb.com
The Olympic and Paralympic inspiration will hopefully spark an even greater increase in student participation in sport at St Andrews in the 2016/17 academic year, as we encourage our Saints Sport athletes to be the best they can be. #evertoexcel
If you know of other athletes or Olympians, past or present, with a St Andrews connection, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you!