Birmingham athletes excel in Rio

The first 10 days of the 2016 Rio Olympics have seen athletes from University of Birmingham Sport’s past and present excel towards finals and secure medals for Team GB.

James Rodwell, 2005 Business Commerce graduate, was part of the team who stormed through the first ever Men’s Rugby Sevens tournament in the Olympics to win silver in the final against Fiji. The British team came out with an Olympic campaign which Rodwell described as a ‘never-say-die’ attitude which secured three victories in the preliminaries. In the final however, the Fijian side proved too strong to defeat and Team GB lost 43-7.

Rodwell

Alumna and four-time Olympic Archer, Naomi Folkard, had her most successful Olympic finish to date when she placed 8th. This is also Team GB’s highest finish for many years.

A dramatic 3000m Steeplechase heat saw graduate scholar, Sara Treacy, fall when an athlete ahead of her fell down. Despite slipping off the track, Treacy was quickly back in the race, although she lost valuable time. At the time of the fall, Treacy was running around 9th place at the back of the leading group, however, she crossed the finish line in 12th, outside of the final qualifying time. Treacy’s response was optimistic and graceful, stating:

‘It’s all about getting up and get going again.’

However, an appeal was raised and approved, securing Treacy’s place in the final on 15 August. Treacy looked thrilled to be on the starting line again and concluded her first Olympics in 17th with a time of 9:52:70.

Current student, Lily Owsley and alumna Sophie Bray, have had an epic beginning to their Olympic campaign finishing top of their group unbeaten. Their final match of the preliminaries was against the favourites-for-gold, USA who had also been unbeaten and surpassed Team GB on the medal table with goal difference. The British side’s attack was relentless and despite going 1-0 down, their hunger for the top spot saw them bounce back with two goals, one of which from Sophie Bray. The quarter-final brought more success for Team GB as they beat Spain 3-1 with a goal from Lily Owsley. They now face New Zealand in the semi-final on 17 August. If they are victorious, they go through to the gold medal match.  

Unfortunately, Physiotherapy alumna Ciara Horne did not make an appearance on the bike in Team GB’s world-record breaking Olympic campaign. Her teammates broke a world-record in the Team Pursuit during qualifying and then went on to win the gold medal in the final. Despite not racing, Ciara’s teammates commended her contribution to the team’s success in the Olympics.

Over the next week we look forward to seeing how Lily  and Sophie progress with Team GB Hockey, whilst medal contender, Non Stanford starts her campaign on 20 August in the Women’s Triathlon.