It was a year that saw the University of Bath named as the country’s top sports university, welcome royalty and thousands of families to the Sports Training Village and celebrate plenty more success on the national and international stage.
Now, with a memorable 2017 coming to a close and the dawn of an exciting Olympic and Commonwealth year upon us, it is time to reflect on another outstanding 12 months at one of the country’s most dynamic and vibrant sporting institutions.
It is that dedication to sporting excellence and determination to create impact, plus the world-class quality of both the STV facilities and sports-related subjects, that led to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide bestowing the prestigious 2018 Sports University of the Year accolade on Bath.
UK Anti-Doping also awarded the University with Elite Status in recognition of its unwavering commitment to clean sport through education, research and student-led workshops.
The STV once again received more than 1.6million visits during 2017, including nearly 10,000 local people of all ages who took the opportunity to try out a range of sports and activities for free during the first-ever University of Bath Festival in May. The Red Devils, The Parachute Regiment’s freefall team, also dropped in (pictured top).
Prince Harry also returned for a second successive year as the STV once again hosted the inspirational Invictus Games trials. Among the hundreds of veterans taking part was Kelly Ganfield, who is coached at the University by Corinne Yorston and went on to row and run for Great Britain at the Games in Toronto.
BUCS Big Wednesday, the culmination of the student sporting season, saw more than 100 teams from universities and colleges across Britain contest a total of 52 finals across 14 different sports during two outstanding days of competition at the Claverton Down campus in March. The University also hosted the BUCS Western Conference Cup finals, where there was home success in badminton, hockey, netball, rugby and water polo.
Other major events staged at the STV this year included the Bath Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, featuring a host of Paralympic and Grand Slam champions; the Modern Pentathlon British Championships and the first Laser Run City Tour event to be staged in the UK; the Wesport Summer School Games; and, demonstrating the flexibility of the facilities, the LEGO League International Open Championship featuring young engineers from as far afield as Australia, Brazil and India.
While the world was coming to Bath for that event in July, University-based athletes were excelling at the World Para-Athletics Championships in London with Sophie Kamlish – coached by Rob Ellchuk – smashing her own T44 100m world record on her way to a stunning gold medal. Polly Maton, coached by Colin Baross, then produced a massive lifetime best to claim a superb silver in the T47 long jump.
That was the first part of a London 2017 double header and the IAAF World Championships in August saw team captain Eilidh Doyle and Emily Diamond help GB to 4x400m relay silver, 24 hours after Sports Performance graduate Danny Talbot had won a sensational 4x100m gold medal.
James Guy – who moved his training base to the British Swimming National Centre Bath this year – won a medal of each colour at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest, with training partners Calum Jarvis and Chris Walker-Hebborn joining him on the global podium in the relay events.
Dmitri Coutya won a historic golden double at the INAS World Wheelchair Fencing Championships, securing both the Category B foil and epee titles in Italy. He is coached by Peter Rome in the elite fencing environment at the STV along with MJ Church ambassador Piers Gilliver, who won Category A epee silver and sabre bronze in Rome.
There were two editions of the World University Games during 2017 and the University of Bath was well represented at both. Skiers Elodie Wallace and Alice MacAulay competed at the Winter Games, while the Summer Games – the second-biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics – saw Sports Performance graduate Jay Lelliott and Team Bath MCTA player Luke Johnson win silver in swimming and tennis respectively.
Jenny Nesbitt and Jacob Paul (athletics), Emily Donovan (football), MJ Church ambassador Anna Hopkin (swimming) and Emma Hurst (tennis) also competed in Taipei, with the latter and fellow student Pippa Horn going on to help GB win a historic first gold medal at the Master’U BNP Tennis Tournament in France later in the year.
Other student success during 2017 included 37 medals at the BUCS Nationals. Among the 11 gold-medallists in Sheffield was sporting scholar Cameron Chalmers, who also anchored the GB 4x400m relay team to victory at the European U23 Championships.
Alex Lane became the first student to win the men’s singles title at the English Badminton Championships, sporting scholars Laura Macro and Steph Clutterbuck won Crew Bath’s first Henley Women’s Regatta title, Chantelle Miell was selected for the England Rugby Women’s 7s squad and Peter Scott made his senior debut for England Hockey.
Several of the University’s BUCS Super Rugby squad also wore the famous Blue, Black and White of Bath Rugby during 2017, exemplifying the strong partnership being forged between two of the city’s sporting powerhouses.
Team Bath Tennis enjoyed its most successful year to date, winning a host of titles on the national and international circuits. Anna Smith and Marcus Daniell contested all four Grand Slam tournaments, both reaching the top 50 in the world doubles rankings, while Liam Broady became the first Team Bath singles player to reach the quarter-final of an ATP World Tour event.
Team Bath Netball reached the final four of the 2017 Vitality Superleague after a storming second half to the season, then finished runners-up at the first-ever British Fast5 All-Stars Championship.
Alumni success included an unforgettable Women’s Cricket World Cup triumph for Fran Wilson and her England team-mates, while Izzy Noel-Smith, Natasha Hunt and Amy Wilson Hardy helped England reach the Women’s Rugby World Cup final.
There promises to be plenty more memorable moments during a 2018 which sees the Winter Olympic Games take place in PyeongChang, South Korea. After back-to-back gold medals in 2010 and 2014, the British Skeleton & Bobsleigh Association – based at the University – will be pushing for more success in February, while Sports Performance graduate Lloyd Wallace will be looking to qualify for the aerial skiing competition.
There will be plenty of University interest at the Commonwealth Games as well, with 12 sportspeople having already been selected to compete on Australia’s Gold Coast in April and more due to be confirmed in the new year.
Back at home, the STV will host four of Pentathlon GB’s British Championships during 2018 as part of the build-up to the 2019 European Championships, also taking place in Bath, while a new £3.5million two-storey gym extension is scheduled to open during the summer.
With an exciting Team Bath Netball squad determined to push for Superleague honours, 2018 promises to be another unforgettable year of sport at the University of Bath.