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Sporting success all over the world

World Sport Pics Frank Uijlenbroek

It was a magical weekend for Loughborough sport as current and former students won national and international medals in no fewer than seven different sports.

Leading the way were the Lionesses, who bounced back from their injury time semi-final defeat to beat Germany and secure Women’s World Cup bronze medals. Stealing the hearts of the nation over the last month, women’s football has really been thrust into the limelight, and it was great to see graduates Laura Bassett, Claire Rafferty and Siobhan Chamberlain enjoying the celebrations!

From Canada we travelled west to Gwangju, South Korea, where the World University Games got underway on Friday. Loughborough University makes up the largest part of the Great Britain team, with seven student-athletes competing in four different sports.

Swimmer James Wilby was fast out of the blocks to bag the first Loughborough medal of the Games, securing a splendid silver in the 100m breastroke. After advancing safely through his heat and semi-final, the Chemistry student, who was part of Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last summer, produced a brilliant swim to take silver in 1.00.28.

Back in Antwerp where the GB men’s hockey team secured their Rio 2016 spots on Wednesday, the team lined up against India four days later aiming to secure Hockey World League bronze.

In a very one sided match, the GB team, containing five Loughborough graduates, secured a resounding 5-1 victory to end the tournament on a high.  Amongst the scorers were former Loughborough duo Chris Griffiths and Barry Middleton, whilst David Condon, Mark Gleghorne and Henry Weir were also part of the winning team.

Captain Barry Middleton said after the match:

“It’s been a good two weeks. We’ve had a big six or seven months coming into this tournament where we weren’t sure what to expect or where we were as a group. We know we are a good team but we needed to prove it. We pride ourselves on finishing strong in tournaments because that’s where you win medals. It was great to do finish strong again today.

“I want to score in every game but it’s one of those things to score on my 350th appearance. It looks nice on the outside and it’s a good feeling but as long as we’re winning 5-1 I don’t mind who’s on the score sheet!”

There was plenty of success on the track and in the field for current and former Loughborough students at the British Championships in Birmingham.

Leading the way was current student Izzy Jeffs, who in her first competition back from injury took the British javelin title for the first time in her career. The GB & NI international produced a fourth round throw of 53.50m to take victory over a field that included Jess Ennis-Hill.

"I’ve just come back from injury and that was my first competition in 11 months. Coming out of this with the British title and injury-free is pretty good."

Despite graduating last summer, Niall Flannery continues to don the Loughborough vest at every opportunity, and he ran a great race to move clear of his rivals round the final bend and defend his 400mH title. He will now chase the qualifying standard for the World Championships in Beijing in August.

There was further medal success for first year Sport & Exercise Science student Jess Judd, who took a terrific bronze medal in the 1500m.

Meanwhile at the Henley Royal Regatta, GB men’s eight produced a resilient display to beat Olympic champions Germany by two and three quarter lengths. 2012 Loughborough graduate Matt Gotrel was part of the eight, who will now travel to Lucerne for the next World Cup event later this month.

Finally there was triple success for sports scholar Sam Rees-Clarke as she powered her way to three national u23 canoe titles over the weekend. Throw in a silver and a bronze, and it was quite some weekend for the Loughborough athlete.