Hartpury University student Laura Hernandez has won a series of European and UK bodybuilding titles after turning a hobby into a successful pastime.
Laura, who is studying a BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary Science degree at Hartpury University, started exercising regularly mainly just as a way of keeping fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
She turned her attention to the world of bodybuilding after she attended a competition as a spectator and watched training videos posted online, being impressed by how much commitment and discipline it took to be successful.
Her own dedication has been rewarded with impressive victories at the PCA South West Championships, where she was overall female champion, the National Amateur Bodybuilders’ Association (NABBA) UK Championships and the Physical Culture Association (PCA) European Championships.
“You have to be fully committed to following a carefully managed meal and training plans – I do really enjoy that part of the sport,” said Laura.
“You can apply the element of discipline that is required in bodybuilding to other areas of your life, such as what I need to do to gain my degree.
“It gives you a huge sense of achievement, knowing the sacrifices you’ve made, when you reach your goals.
“The past year, while I have been a member of the Sports Academy at Hartpury, has been my most successful so far, without a doubt.
“I really wouldn’t be able to study for a degree and prepare for contests if I didn’t have the support of my all academic tutors and my sports coaches at Hartpury.
“I have got access to top sports physiotherapists and nutritionists and amazing equipment – everything I need, in fact – plus my own coaches outside Hartpury.
“While it’s just me on stage when I compete, in reality it has taken a huge team effort to get me to that point.
“I feel very proud when I’m introduced to the crowd as representing Hartpury University – it is a huge honour for me.”
When she is not at the Sports Academy, Laura is studying bioveterinary science in dedicated laboratories and gaining hands-on experience working with some of the 70 species of animals at Hartpury.
“The facilities are brilliant, the staff are so supportive and you can be literally working with reptiles one day and cows the next, which is great to have on your CV in terms of your future career prospects,” said Laura.
“I’ve been interested in animals – my grandparents owned farms back home in Colombia – and science for as long as I can remember, so this degree was the perfect option for me.”
As a Dual Career Accredited Site, Hartpury delivers core services to support student athletes as a Talented Athlete Centre through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).
The scheme formally recognises an institution’s commitment to supporting student athletes and allowing them to reach their potential in education alongside achieving success in their sport.
Lee Douglas, Head of Strength and Conditioning at Hartpury, added: “We are really pleased for Laura and all her success this year.
“She has shown fantastic determination and dedication to both her academic studies and training to balance this workload and compete at the highest level, which is a real testament to her character and she is a great role model for student athletes here at Hartpury.
“The Athlete Performance Academy is there to provide support services such as strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, sport nutrition, performance lifestyle and sports psychology .
“We have worked closely with Laura to help her achieve her goals and hopefully this is the beginning of many more successes in the future.”
Picture: Laura Hernandez with some of her trophies