How Leeds Beckett helped its Olympians win five medals at Tokyo 2020
Heat chambers, performance analysis and support from the Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub are just some of the ways in which Leeds Beckett helped its Olympians secure five medals at Tokyo 2020.
Academics and coaches helped prepare and support Team GB’s Olympians, with athletes linked to the University winning one gold and four silver medals.
Triathlon Leeds athletes Georgia Taylor-Brown, Jonny Brownlee and Jess Learmonth and former Triathlon Leeds athlete Alex Yee had all trained at the University prior to winning a gold medal in the first-ever Olympic triathlon mixed relay at Tokyo 2020.
Alex, who is a graduating student, and 2015 Sport & Exercise Science graduate Georgia also secured silver medals in the triathlon individual events.
The triathletes used the world-class facilities and expertise at The Carnegie School of Sport, including the environmental heat chambers to prepare for the humidity of Tokyo. The athletes also received coaching support from the Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub.
The Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub was formed in May 2020 by Leeds Beckett University, British Athletics, England Athletics, London Marathon Events and the Talent Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).
The Talent Hub provides an elite training environment for its athletes, with support from coaches and access to the University's facilities including the athletics track and the £45m Carnegie School of Sport building. The Hub has had four of its athletes compete at Tokyo 2020 including graduates Alex Bell and Tom Bosworth, Lizzie Bird and first year Criminology student Keely Hodgkinson.
Keely became the very first Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub athlete to win an Olympic medal, after claiming silver in the 800m.
Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub Manager Dr Andrew Drake, who was part of Team GB’s marathon and race walking coaching staff in Tokyo, said:
"We are proud to have had so many Olympians represent the University and the Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub. For our athletes to win five Olympic medals is incredible and it is a real testament to the University to be able to produce and attract high performance athletes to study and train.
"Our Olympians are great role models for our other Talent Hub athletes who have aspirations of their own to represent Great Britain in future major championships."
Leeds Beckett graduate, and former sports scholarship student, Emily Campbell became the first British female to win a medal in weightlifting, after winning silver.
Leeds Beckett’s medal winners were among 14 athletes from the University to compete at Tokyo 2020.
The university finished 2nd in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Olympics table and would have finished 45th if it was a competing nation, above Belarus, Romania and India.
The focus now moves onto graduates Dame Sarah Storey DBE, Kadeena Cox MBE and Ali Jawad who are competing for Team GB in the Paralympic Games which start on Tuesday 24 August.
Congratulations to our 14 athletes who competed in the Olympic Games. I would also like to congratulate colleagues from the Carnegie School of Sport and Talent Hub who, during the difficulties of a pandemic, have offered athletes world-class facilities, expertise and support in their preparations for Tokyo. The last year has not been easy for any of the athletes but their hard work and perseverance have now paid off.
What an incredible Games our Olympians have had. I’m proud of our athletes as much as I am proud of colleagues within Sport & Active Lifestyles, the Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub and Triathlon Leeds, who have helped support and prepare our athletes, alongside the challenges of handling a global pandemic. Quite simply, it has been an amazing team effort to help our Olympic athletes win medals, break records, represent their country and achieve their dreams.
We are delighted to see our students, alumni, and Leeds sporting community perform so well at the Tokyo Olympics and we’re now looking forward to see what our Graduates can do at the Paralympics. Everyone at Leeds Beckett is incredibly proud of the small part we’ve played in supporting their journey, whether that be through their studies or by supporting preparations using our state-of-the-art training and research facilities.
Triathlon – one gold, two silver medals
Leeds Beckett’s triathletes won gold in the first-ever triathlon mixed relay at an Olympic Games. The team consisted of three Leeds Beckett representatives including Alex Yee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Honorary Graduate Jonny Brownlee, as well as Triathlon Leeds star Jess Learmonth who, like her teammates, had been training at the university prior to the Games.
In an interview with BBC Sport, Alex said: "I am just a normal guy from south-east London - dreams really do come true,"
"My mum always says it takes a village to build a person and I think it has taken the whole of GB today."
Women’s 800m – silver medal
First year student Keely Hodgkinson won an Olympic silver medal in her first ever Games and broke Dame Kelly Holmes’ 26-year-old British 800 metre record.
Keely and Leeds Beckett graduate Alex Bell made history, alongside Jemma Reekie, to become the first three female athletes to represent Team GB in the same Olympic individual final. Alex finished the final in seventh, securing a career personal best time.
Weightlifting – silver medal
Leeds Beckett graduate, and former sports scholar, Emily Campbell made history becoming the first ever Team GB female to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting.
Emily claimed silver in the +87kg category after lifting an incredible 283kg combined weight, having lifted 122kg and 161kg in the clean and jerk.
Speaking to The Guardian, Emily said: “Winning the first British female weightlifting medal is something that will obviously be with me forever and I’m just thankful that I managed to put weightlifting on the map."
Leeds Beckett Graduates Dame Sarah Storey DBE, Kadeena Cox MBE and Ali Jawad will all be competing for Team GB in the Paralympic Games from Tuesday 24 August.
Dame Sarah Storey DBE is the most decorated athlete in Paralympian history and will be competing in her eighth Olympic Games. She debuted in 1992 in Barcelona as a swimmer. In the Paralympics 2016, Dame Sarah Storey (BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Science, 2000) made her total Gold medal collection much richer with a 12th gold from the C5 3,000m individual pursuit cycling and a 13th in the C5 cycling time trial. She has won 13 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals across an impressive seven Paralympics.
Kadeena Cox MBE became the first Paralympian to claim two golds in different events at Rio 2016. Alumna Kadeena Cox (BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Science, 2013) broke world records with golds in C4/5 time trial cycling and T38 400m. She was a sprinter from an early age and entered Para athletics in 2015 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Ali Jawad is a British powerlifter, who studied Sports and Exercise Science at Leeds Beckett. He secured a Silver in -59kg class powerlifting after clearing 190kg (more than three times his body weight) in the Rio Paralympics. Ali was born without legs and took up powerlifting at the age of 16.
Students and staff working in tokyo
Carnegie School of Sport PhD student and research assistant Robert Stanley was in Tokyo with Team USA’s indoor cycling team. Robert is the team’s performance scientist and helped the team prepare ahead of the Olympic Games. Team USA’s Jennifer Valente won gold in the Omnium while USA’s women’s pursuit team claimed bronze.
Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub Manager Dr Andrew Drake was part of Team GB’s marathon and race walking coaching teams, while Sport & Active Lifestyles colleague and Triathlon Leeds running coach Ian Mitchell was in Tokyo prior to the Games working closely with Georgia Taylor-Brown.
Olympic gold medalist and LBU graduate Samantha Quek headed the BBC’s Olympics coverage, presenting on Olympic Breakfast alongside Dan Walker. BA (Hons) Sports Business Management graduate Gareth Brown was appointed Business Insights Manager by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), read Gareth’s story.
TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS LBU RESULTS
- Alex Yee, BSc (Hons) Sports & Exercise Science student -triathlon - Gold & Silver medal
- Georgia Taylor-Brown, BSc (Hons) Sports & Exercise Science 2015- triathlon - Gold & Silver medal
- Jonny Brownlee, Honorary Graduate 2019 - triathlon - Gold medal
- Keely Hodgkinson, BA (Hons) Criminology student - 800m - Silver medal
- Emily Campbell, BSc (Hons) Sports Science, 2016 - weightlifting - Silver medal
- Alex Bell, BA (Hons) Human Geography, 2014 - women's 800m - 7th
- Lizzie Bird, LBU Talent Hub athlete – 3000m steeplechase – 9th
- Callum Wilkinson, BSc (Hons) Sports Events Management 2019 – 20km race walk – 10th
- Tom Bosworth, BSc (Hons) Sports Performance, 2013 – 20km race walk – 25th
- Lucy Bronze, BSc (Hons) Sports Studies, 2013 – football – quarter finals
- Lauren Smith, BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching, 2014 – badminton – quarter finals
- Brendan Boyce, BSc (Hons) Sports Performance, 2011 – 50km race walk – 10th
- Yona Knight-Wisdom, BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Science, 2016 – diving – 15th, semi finals
- Quentin Rew, French & Related Studies (part time) 2013 – 50km race walk – 16th