World Games call up for Leeds Met student
Heike Niemand, who will graduate in July with an MSc degree in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, has been selected as part of Great Britain's woman's rugby sevens squad at the Games, which this year will be held in Kazan, Russia from 5 - 17 July.
The 22-year-old student started playing rugby at the age of 13 and was delighted to receive the call up to the GB squad: "I am very competitive and driven and this opportunity to represent Great Britain at the World University Games means the world to me. It seems my hard work is finally starting to pay off and I'm being recognised for my passion, ability and potential.
"My rugby is probably the thing I'm most proud of, as I progressed quickly at a young age and am still learning new things and getting better every day. It has given me confidence and strength to deal with tough challenges and rejection. It has taught me valuable leadership, motivational and team work skills. But most of all, it has given me enjoyment, friendships, and a desire for success."
The international University Sports Federation (FISU) organise the World University Games (the Universiade) every two years. The first official World Student Games were organised in 1924 and were held under the auspices of the Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) from 1949.
Heike currently plays for Aylesford Bulls RFC who have just been promoted to the Premiership having finished the season undefeated. She has also represented Kent County and London & South East as well as playing for England's student rugby league side.
Speaking about the perception of women's rugby, Heike said: "Women receive so much scrutiny and criticism for playing a "man's sport" and I am determined to join the top players in this country to prove that we are just as athletic and skilled as any man. We may never be able to run quite as fast or lift quite as much weight, but we love and understand the game, and have the ability to analyse situations and invade our opponents' territory."
Great Britain have Brazil, China, Italy and the USA in the pool stages of the tournament.