More than 100 international medals won and new elite training centres opened during a stunning sporting 2022 at University of Bath
World, European and Commonwealth champions were crowned, more than 100 international medals were won and new elite training centres were opened during another unforgettable year of sport at the University of Bath.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games saw 37 sportspeople who train, study or studied at the University of Bath – named as the University of the Year in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023 – compete across nine different sports and win a fantastic seven gold, 17 silver and nine bronze medals between them.
Leading the way with seven medals was Bill Whiteley Sporting Scholar Tom Dean, whose one gold and six silver made him Team England’s most decorated athlete ever at a single Commonwealth Games. Fellow Olympic Champion James Guy was on the podium six times, Brodie Williams won two gold and a silver, and there were also medals for Freya Anderson, Luke Turley, Ed Mildred and Jacob Peters.
In total British Swimming Performance Centre Bath swimmers won 25 medals at the Commonwealth Games and their final tally for 2022 – following the World Championships (50m and 25m) and Europeans – was an incredible 46 for swimmers coached by David McNulty, who was inducted into the Team Bath Hall of Fame for Sport in February.
University of Bath Swimming Club’s Ben Proud also had a magnificent year, making history by being crowned as 50m freestyle World, European and Commonwealth Champion in the space of just two months.
Away from the pool in Birmingham, there was a first-ever athletics medal for Guernsey from Sports Performance alumnus Alastair Chalmers in the 400m hurdles, plus two brilliant judo medals for Team Bath’s Rhys Thompson and Sports & Exercise Science alumna Gemma Howell.
The other big international multi-sport event of the year was the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, which featured 10 Bath-based British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association athletes and saw Jackie Narracott, who does some of her training at the STV, win a historic silver for Australia in the women’s skeleton.
Cool Runnings came to Bath before the Games when Jamaica used the University’s push-start track for their final Beijing bobsleigh preparations. England Rugby also visited Team Bath over the summer for a month-long camp ahead of the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, the South African netball team trained at the STV ahead of the Commonwealth Games and assistant referee Adam Nunn did heat training in the Team Bath Sports Science Centre ahead of officiating at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Rivalling the swimmers for most podium places in 2022 was the British Fencing squad who claimed a phenomenal 54 medals on the international wheelchair fencing circuit in 12 months, 32 of them gold including four apiece for Piers Gilliver and Dimitri Coutya at December’s European Championships.
The squad will be looking to build on that success following this month’s opening of the Wheelchair Fencing National Training Centre at the STV, a dedicated training base for the fencers as they work towards Paris 2024.
An EIS Athlete Health and Performance Studio for other Olympic and Paralympic athletes was also opened in December, while the Team Bath Gym & Fitness Centre received an extensive £100,000 upgrade in January featuring the very latest Matrix Fitness equipment.
It was a breakthrough year for Team Bath Tennis star Alicia Barnett who began 2022 ranked 184th in the world but rose to a career-high 59th after reaching a host of finals with doubles partner Olivia Nicholls, winning their first-ever ITF and WTA titles. They also made their Wimbledon and US Open debuts, and made their Great Britain bows in November’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow, playing a pivotal role as the hosts reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1981.
Highlights of the student sporting year included 17 medals at BUCS Nationals in February; the return of Varsity in April, with hundreds of spectators cheering hosts Bath to victory over Cardiff Met; and a first BUCS Super Rugby Anniversary Game since 2019, with Team Bath treating 6,000 supporters at The Rec to a superb victory over defending champions Durham.
The men’s 1st XV – backed by Bath Building Society, who joined Team Bath’s valued family of sponsors this year – sit second in the table going into the New Year, while regional titles have already been secured by Bath this BUCS season in men’s football, women’s netball and women’s tennis.
Student Orlando Bailey made his first senior England Rugby appearance against Barbarians in the summer and fellow sporting scholar Vicki McCabe helped England win bronze at the Junior Hockey World Cup in South Africa.
Emma Whitaker was another student to excel as she bagged bronze on her Modern Pentathlon World Cup debut in Egypt. It was one of many medals won during another stellar year for Pentathlon GB including European Championships gold and silver for Charlie Follett and Jo Muir respectively, and World Championships silver for fellow alumna Jess Varley.
The undoubted highlight came from Bath graduate Joe Choong who magnificently added the World title to the Olympics crown he had won in Tokyo 12 months earlier. He will be looking to defend his crown when the University of Bath hosts its biggest sporting event of 2023 – the UIPM Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships, taking place from 19-28 August.
It is a qualifying event for Paris 2024 which, with just over 500 days to go until the next Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be a growing focus for athletes over the coming year. It is also a new era for Team Bath Netball, bronze-medal winners this year, whose vibrant young squad will be looking to make their mark in the Super League during what promises to be an exciting 2023 for sportspeople at the STV.
Thank you to everyone in the Team Bath community for making 2022 another unforgettable year. We wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2023!