Home of athletics

It’s fair to say we’re proud of our sporting heritage here at the University of Birmingham. As the first University to launch a Sport and Exercise Science degree back in 1946, sport has been part of our story ever since. With leading sport and fitness facilities and our own dedicated athletics track, here we share some insights into some of our game-changers of track and field.

Meet the game-changers

A group of the University of Birmingham's athletics talent from past and present standing in front of the Aston Webb building

This is but a small selection of our athletics talent, past and present. From left to right...

Luke Gunn, Head of University of Birmingham Athletics, Alumni, 4x National Steeplechase

Since hanging up his spikes in 2017 after a long and illustrious career, he has turned his focus to coaching and mentoring others. From 2010, Luke began coaching alongside his own running and has since coached an array of athletes from 800m-Marathon distances, collecting no fewer than 5 BUCS Individual Gold medals and numerous age-group national medals and GB internationals. Luke was a GB International runner on the track, cross-country and road during a junior and senior career that spanned 2 decades. Highlights include 4 National Senior UK Titles at the 3,000m Steeplechase and 3 Commonwealth Games finals. Luke brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role and is fostering some of the brightest talent in British athletics.

Jade Surman, University of Birmingham Coach, Former International Heptathlete

Jade is a former International Heptathlete and has now been coaching at the University for 5 years. She has produced multiple BUCS Medallists and has represented England a Junior and Senior level. Jade has been team manager for both England Teams and at the World University Games. Jade is a key point-of-contact for the British Athletics Talent Hub and is also lead coach for the Youth Talent Programme. Jade leads on recruitment for power-based athletes to the University, across all sprints, jumps and throws events.

Jonathan Davies, Alumni, European U23 Cross Country Champion (2015)

Alongside studying Biology at the University of Birmingham in 2013-2017, Jonathan Davies has had one of the most dominant junior careers in the nation. As a current alumni scholar and staff member at the University, he is working hard towards selection for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Jonathan is one of the leading international distance runners and is no stranger to success with various national and international medals to his name. This includes being European U23 Cross Country Champion (2015), World Universities 5000m Silver medallist and 1500m Bronze medallist (2017), and most recently British Indoors 3000m Champion (2020).

Laura Zialor, Current UoB Student, British Silver Medalist

Read more about Laura on her game-changer page.

Dean Miller, University of Birmingham Coach, Alumni, London 2012 Paralympian Champion

Dean is a Paralympian from London 2012 and European medallist over 1500m (T37). Dean is an alumni from Birmingham, who moved into coaching 3 years ago with immediate success. Dean works with the British Athletics Para-Futures programme, as well as being a point-of-contact for the Talent Hub endurance athletes. Dean also leads on the Street2Stadium initiative from British Para-Athletics, as well as being lead coach for the Youth Talent Programme. Dean is currently on a UKSport Coaching National Programme and is the lead recruitment coordinator for the University of Birmingham.

Bud Baldaro, University of Birmingham Coach, England Athletics Hall of Fame

An esteemed figure and beloved by many, his credentials speak for themselves. As a coach, Bud has worked with a host of athletic stars. Regular visitors to his home included Tegla Laroupe, Olga Bondarenko, Arturio Barrios, and Hendrick Ramaala. Bud’s also coached top athletes like: Hannah England – World 1500m silver medallist, Bev Nicholson – Commonwealth Games 1500m bronze medallist, Marion Sutton – twice Chicago marathon winner, Eddie Wedderburn – World Student steeplechase silver medallist, Hatti Dean – GB track and cross country star, plus numerous GB internationals and national champions. He has been GB coach for both cross country and the marathon, and as well as coaching, he has worked widely with charities especially Mencap, Shine and Age UK. We’re proud to call him one of our own. While he has retired from his role as National Coach mentor with England Athletics, he is still very much a huge part of the University of Birmingham athletics community. Bud Baldaro has been at the heart of endurance coaching in the UK for many years, having started coaching at Birmingham University back in 2005.

Hannah England, Alumni, World 1500m Silver medalist

Read more about Hannah on her game-changer page.

We have high hopes for this group and many others, such as first year Chemistry student, Oliver Dustin who is representing Team GB at the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.

Game Changers: Head of Athletics Luke Gunn (Video transcript)


Ranked in the top seven of UK university sport, we’re all about participation and finding the joy in sport, as well as fostering future international competitors and medal winners. Dedicated development squads are a great place to socialise and learn new skills - and if you want to raise the stakes, our British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) teams compete in the national university league.

Sport in the city of Birmingham

Laura Zialor and Jade Surman standing together in Chancellor's Court with the Aston Webb building in the background
Luke Gunn standing in the hallway of the Aston Webb building
Hannah England and Luke Gunn standing in the hallway of the Aston Webb building.