Now the Tokyo Olympics have been and gone, many of us are looking ahead to Paris 2024 already. Team GB boasted 65 medals this year, equalling the total won in London 2012. However, many athletes are decorated by something other than gold, silver and bronze – university degrees. Below are the universities which produced Team GB’s medal-winning athletes, who prove that sport and studying can indeed coexist.
University of Bath
The University of Bath produced gold-winning pentathletes and swimmers for the Tokyo Olympics. The base of Pentathlon GB lies in the university’s campus. Joe Choong, who won Britain’s first-ever male gold in modern pentathlon, trained here while studying Mathematics. Kate French also trained at the centre while completing her degree in Sports Performance at the university. French won gold in the women’s Pentathlon and broke the Olympic record.
In addition, swimmer Tom Dean studied Mechanical Engineering at Bath while training at the Nation Centre for Swimming situated there. In Tokyo, he won gold in the 200m freestyle, closely followed by his teammate Duncan Scott. Dean then became the first male British swimmer to win two gold medals at one Olympic in 113 years, when he raced as part of the men’s 4×200 freestyle relay team.
Leeds Beckett University
In comparison to the pentathletes of Bath, Leeds Beckett served Team GB by producing triathletes. In the Tokyo Olympics, Georgia Taylor-Brown won silver in the women’s Triathlon, while her teammate (and university-mate) also won silver in the men’s competition. Both went on to win gold as part of the Triathlon Mixed Relay, and both studied Sports and Exercise Science at LBU. Jonny Brownlee, part of this team as well, studied History at Leeds University but has since been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett alongside his brother.
Another olympian graduate of LBU is Emily Campbell, who became the first British woman to win an Olympic medal in Weightlifting, winning silver. The 800m runner Keely Hodgkinson, who studied Criminology at the university, brought home a silver medal from Tokyo as well.
University of Southampton
Thanks to Southampton’s location near the sea, the university produced two of Team GB’s sailors this year. Giles Scott, who studied Geography, went on to win gold in the Finn medal race in the Tokyo Olympics. While Anna Burnet, who read Sports Studies, won silver with her partner John Gimson in the Nacra 17 class.
Although Loughborough has a reputation for being successful in most sports, the university sent a great number of hockey players to the Tokyo Olympics. The women’s hockey team, which won bronze medals in the competition, featured five students and alumni from Loughborough. Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, Ellie Rayer, Izzy Petter and Giselle Ansley studied sports-related courses, whereas Laura Unsworth has an Accounting and Financial Management degree from the uni. The canoer Liam Heath, who won bronze in the men’s K1 200m canoe sprint, also went to Loughborough, but studied industrial design and technology.
University of Birmingham
Birmingham rivals Loughborough for its degrees among the women’s hockey team. Anna Toman, Hannah Martin and Lily Owsley from the bronze-winning team all went to Birmingham.
Universities in the US
Surprisingly, American universities have contributed a significant amount of runners and rowers to Team GB in the Tokyo Olympics. Sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who was recruited by Louisiana State University, raced in the men’s 4x100m relay team, which missed out on gold by one-hundredth of a second, winning silver instead. In addition, Josh Kerr, who won bronze in the men’s 1500m, studied at the University of New Mexico.
This year Team GB won a rowing bronze in the Men’s 8 as well. Members of this team, Jacob Dawson, Tom George, and Oliver Wynne-Griffith, studied at Washington, Princeton, and Yale, respectively.
Universities in London
Seemingly, London produces top speed sprinters, with two members of the bronze-winning women’s 4x100m relay attending university there. Asha Philip studied Drama at Kingston University, while Imani Lansiquot is studying Psychology at King’s College London.
The list above is by no means exhaustive, as several more Team GB athletes have attended university or are currently studying. Younger athletes, such as members of the gymnastics team, or the skateboarder Sky Brown, are yet to finish school. As if 65 medals weren’t enough, the universities behind Team GB have proved that our athletes are more talented than we realised. Could studying at one of the above unis help your chances of an Olympic medal?