Hartpury well represented in Tokyo during a spectacular summer of sport

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28 staff and students from Hartpury University and Hartpury College will be in Japan this summer to compete, officiate or support the British team in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It’s not the first time Hartpury has been well represented on the global sporting stage. Students and staff took active roles in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games also.

In Tokyo, on the water, five former students and staff became the first alumni to be named in a Team GB rowing squad. Sisters Charlotte and Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne and Chloe Brew, who all studied A-levels at Hartpury, were among the 45 rowers selected to represent Team GB at Tokyo’s Sea Forest Walkway.

The trio were all members of the Rowing Academy at Hartpury – a national centre for British Rowing’s World Class Start programme.

Former Rowing Head Coach Tom Pattichis and physiotherapist Steve Leonard also won places on the Team GB rowing coaching team.

Five MSc Professional Development in Sports Coaching students, enrolled on the course as part of UK Sport’s Coach Leader Programme, are representing Team GB in coaching roles across a number of disciplines. Swimming coach Steven Tigg has already tasted success following Duncan Scott’s silver medal in the men’s 200m freestyle and gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle. Rowing coach Paul Stannard, Head Coach for the men’s scull, has also played his part as the men’s quad scull won silver earlier today. Tracy Whittaker-Smith (trampoline) will see her two athletes compete later in the week and James Harris is also out in Tokyo assisting the women’s sweep in rowing.

Rugby sevens made its debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and continues its popularity as a fast and furious sport. The Hartpury contingent made up one third of the players named across both the men’s and women’s squads, an incredible achievement by any standards. 

Natasha Hunt, Hartpury’s Senior Women’s Rugby Academy Manager, is among seven former students named in the GB men’s and women’s sevens rugby squads.

World Cup winner Hunt - also Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC captain - is set for her second Olympic Games along with co-captains and former students Abbie Brown and Megan Jones.

Abi Burton, Alex Matthews and Holly Aitchison round Hartpury’s representatives in the women’s 12-player squad.

Dan Norton, who won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, was in action with Team GB’s men’s team who had to settle for fourth place behind Argentina.

Britain’s equestrian dressage team has also enjoyed a storming start in Japan, following up recent successes with a team bronze. The three-strong dressage team is led by Carl Hester, an equestrian legend and trainer for Hartpury’s Equine Academy students. Carl pulled out all the stops with his mount En Vogue during Tuesday’s Grand Prix Special, while Charlotte Dujardin showed selectors that Gio is more than capable of following in the footsteps of her former equine partner, Valegro. Charlotte became the most decorated female Olympian of all time on Wednesday, adding another bronze medal to her collection in the individual competition. Charlotte is a regular visitor to Hartpury’s Equine Therapy Centre facilities throughout the year as part of their horses fitness and training regimen. All horses competing in the Games have previously competed at the NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage.

Three equestrian grooms supporting Britain’s leading hopes also hail from Hartpury with FE student Lucy Scudamore, and undergraduate students Fran Gorni and Steven Caley in action.

Later in the summer, Phillip Cheetham, Equine Director at Hartpury, will head to Tokyo as Assistant Chief Steward for the para dressage. This will be his fourth visit to a Paralympic Games in an official capacity.

The recent NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage proved a useful trial for Britain’s para-equestrian team with Lee Pearson, Sophie Wells, Natasha Baker and Sophie Christiansen all hoping for glory in late August.

Hartpury graduate and Hartpury Sport Ambassador, Mel Nicholls, will head to Tokyo for her third Paralympic Games, seeking further successes in cycling.

“We’re delighted to see so many former and current students, as well as staff, out in action at the Tokyo 2020 Games,” said Tom Radcliffe, Director of Elite Sport at Hartpury.

“To have former students and staff in the Team GB Olympic rowing squad for the first time, as well as having a one-third of the entire rugby sevens GB squad, is just outstanding. 

“We are also particularly proud to have so many staff and students working in supporting roles, whether officiating, coaching or grooming. These roles are all vital components of elite sport and we hope our representatives in Japan help to inspire the next generation as we look forward to the autumn term,” he added.

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