Have you ever wanted to find out what it takes to be an Olympic hero? People across the Midlands now have the chance to meet the University of Birmingham’s Rio 2016 champions and ask them about  their Olympic experiences.

The University is hosting a special ‘Road from Rio’ event on Monday, 24 October to honour women's hockey gold medallists Lily Owsley and Sophie Bray, Olympic medallist and women's cycling coach Paul Manning MBE, and Paralympic cycling gold medallist Lora Turnham - pictured below with pilot Corrine Hall.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood will present the athletes with commemorative medals, before passing the baton to BBC sports commentator Simon Brotherton to host a Q&A session for audience members to put their questions to the athletes.

Lora Turnham

Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “The University of Birmingham is delighted to celebrate the ultimate sporting achievements of our current and former students at this year’s Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“People from across the Midlands are welcome to join us in marking the athletes’ achievements in Rio, which have added an extraordinary new chapter to our University’s already impressive sporting heritage.

“These were special and proud moments on campus during the summer and we believe that these exceptional achievements should be recognised by the University. I’m particularly pleased that we will be joined by Simon Brotherton to lead the question and answer session with our Olympians.”

The athletes will be joined for the Q&A by Professor Myra Nimmo, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Chair of England Athletics – herself an former Olympic athlete.

Spaces are still available for the event, which is free-of-charge and starts at 17:15.

For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or  +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries. 

Paul Manning MBE

  • Paul Manning graduated from the University of Birmingham in Earth Sciences in 1996. Since graduation, Paul has been on the medal podium for Great Britain at three Olympic Games. His first medal was bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, followed by silver in the 2004 Athens Olympics and gold with a world record in the team pursuit at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
  • In addition to his Olympic medals, Paul has won three world championships, two Commonwealth Games gold medals and 7 UCI Track World Cup titles. After retiring from professional cycling, Paul was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours.
  • Paul was retained by British Cycling as Endurance Coach for the women’s team. Under Paul’s coaching, the women’s endurance team has broken the team pursuit world record six times, including during London 2012 Olympics to win the gold medal. Rio 2016 saw Paul’s women’s track team retain their title in the team pursuit and Laura Trott retained her title in the women’s Omnium.

Sophie Bray & Lily Owsley

  • Sophie Bray & Lily Owsleywere both part of the squad which won the first ever Olympic gold medal for British women’s hockey. Sophie Bray graduated in 2011 from Psychology and Lily Owsley is the first ever current student to win an Olympic gold medal. Lily returned to the University of Birmingham last month to continue her degree in Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences.
  • Both Sophie and Lily were also part of the England team which won silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and became European champions in 2015. Lily and Sophie played in every match of the Olympic Games for Great Britain and both made star appearances in the final where Sophie set up the first goal which Lily scored against the Netherlands.

Lora Turnham

  • University of Birmingham alumni Lora Turnham returned from the Paralympic Games in Rio with a gold medal in the Tandem B 3000m pursuit and bronze in the time trial. Lora graduated in 2010 from Physiotherapy, only taking up competitive cycling at University and within six weeks she won her first medal.
  • Lora narrowly missed out on medals at London 2012 but, partnered with new pilot Corrine Hall, set a new Paralympic record in their first Paralympic appearance together in the 3000m pursuit heat. They then went on to take the gold medal in the final, adding a bronze medal to the collection in the road time trial.