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The Power of Sport

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Leeds Trinity University celebrates its sporting heroes achieving their dreams on a global stage.

Girl with yellow sports top and blue leggings on crouches on running track in front of University.

As the nation basks in the glory of England beating Germany in the final of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, and the final medals having been awarded at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Leeds Trinity University is celebrating its own talented athletes who are achieving sporting dreams and goals on national and international stages.

From football and boxing to para powerlifting and swimming, Leeds Trinity has seen a huge number of its students competing in the world of sport.

Light-middleweight boxer, Jodie Wilkinson, attended her first Commonwealth Games this year and won her first fight in the preliminary rounds, advancing to the quarter-finals.

Jodie studied Secondary PE and Sports Coaching at Leeds Trinity from 2016. Having started out playing Rugby League, Jodie initially took up boxing to lose some weight. She fell in love with the sport and had her first bout in a white-collar boxing event organised in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support in 2014.

Around the time she was completing University, Jodie started to take boxing more seriously, having her first fight as an amateur in 2017. She won the English Championships in 2019 and again in 2021. Jodie also works as a part-time 999 Emergency Call Handler with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, who are really flexible with her around her boxing.

Jodie said: “I am delighted I made it to the quarter-finals with my first fight at the Commonwealth Games and I have learnt a great deal for the future. The best thing about Leeds Trinity was how supportive, attentive and responsive the staff are. They listen and are great at keeping you on track, staying focused and determined to do well, which I have taken into my boxing, keeping in mind that as long as you believe in yourself, you can achieve.”

Team GB athlete and para powerlifter Charlotte McGuinness, who studies Sport and Exercise Sciences at Leeds Trinity University, also attended the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as part of Team England, where she got to watch and learn from other athletes competing. She also took part in a mentoring session where she met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Charlotte recently won a silver medal at the World Para Powerlifting Championships in November in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Current Physical Education and School Sport student Brett Hawthorn has also previously won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in wrestling and more recently won a Catch Wrestling World title in the 65kg weight category.

As well as Leeds Trinity students and alumni taking centre stage at the Games, the University was represented behind the scenes, with former Business and Media student Sean Murphy playing a part as one of the TV producers helping to broadcast livestreams of the games for the world to see. Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching and School Sport, Lisa Gannon also lent her passion and voice as a gymnastics commentator at the Games.

Leeds Trinity University supports students through its Talented Athlete Support Package (TASP) and Inspiring Futures Sporting Excellence fund.

The TASP offers tailored support to dual-career athletes competing at a high level in their sport to manage their studies and their sports careers. The Inspiring Futures Sporting Excellence fund offers students who compete at a national or international level of sport a bursary of up to £500 to use for competition entry fees, transport, travel, or equipment.

One such recipient of this support is swimmer Matt Gray, who has recently graduated from Leeds Trinity University with a degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences and competed at the British Championships in April.

Sarah Todd, Sports Development Manager at Leeds Trinity University, said: “I am so proud of all our dual-career athletes and their achievements so far. It is fantastic that they are able to access the support they need with our Talented Athlete Support Package and Inspiring Futures Sporting Excellence fund.

“It is always very rewarding when we see both past and present students doing so well in their sports and I am looking forward to working with future athletes that come through the doors at Leeds Trinity University.”

Leeds Trinity University’s highly successful alumni community also includes track and field athlete Fiona May, a three-time World Champion long jumper and double Olympic silver medallist. Fiona was recently awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Leeds Trinity for her contribution and achievements in sport. She was honoured in a ceremony earlier this year alongside fellow alumni humanitarian John M. Flanagan and BAFTA-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar, all of whom will play an active role in nurturing the next generation of students to achieve their dreams.

Furthermore, Sport and Exercise Sciences student Catherine Hamill graduated as part of the Class of 2022 and is captain of Leeds United Women Football Club. Catherine is also the Health and Wellbeing Coach for Leeds United Foundation.

Dr Chris Sellars, Head of School of Sport and Wellbeing at Leeds Trinity University, said: “As a former athlete and someone who has provided one-to-one support for a range of international and world-class athletes, including Olympic and European medallists, I know it’s more than hours of training, discipline and winning. The power of sport goes further than the self-gain, sport can unite communities through a shared experience and goal, sport also helps with emotional management, wellbeing, and mental health.”

Leeds Trinity also recently hosted the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Summer School 2022, which brought together students from across the world to explore themes relating to Sports and regeneration: Driving sustainability, community and wellbeing.

For more information about the University’s Talented Athlete Support Package and Inspiring Futures Sporting Excellence fund, visit the Leeds Trinity website.