By Artemis Denton, Digital Sport Editor
With the pandemic-delayed 2020 Olympic Games commencing at last with a spectacular opening ceremony in Tokyo yesterday, it is exciting to see seven Bristol graduates step up to compete for gold. Among these, 33-year old mechanical engineering graduate Hannah Mills was given the honour of leading out Team GB in the opening ceremony.
Mills, MBE, who brought home a gold medal after sailing to victory at the 2016 Rio Olympics was chosen to carry the Union Jack alongside gold medalist rower Mohamed Sbihi. Hannah Mills stated that she was proud to have been selected for this, saying:
‘To be asked to carry the flag for Team GB at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is not a sentence I ever thought I’d say. When I was told it was completely overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I got pretty emotional.’
Viewers can tune in to watch her defend her women’s 470 title alongside Eilidh McIntyre.
Bristol students past and present, can also look forward to watching English and Philosophy graduate Tom Mitchell captain the Rugby 7s team this Olympic games. Having led the Rugby 7s team to silver in Rio where the sport made its Olympic debut, Mitchell praised his players’ determination and commitment to staying on track for another Olympic title bid despite the many challenges that have been thrown at athletes these past few years.
Another athlete who is looking to take the Olympics by storm after a difficult year is long jumper Jazmin Sawyers. The Bristol law graduate and keen singer who appeared on The Voice in 2017 did well to finish 8th on her debut at the 2016 Rio Olympics. After beating her personal best this year with a jump of 6.09m in California, Sawyers is not only hoping to place higher this Olympics but to retain her British crown.
Also competing in athletics this Olympics is 110m hurdler Andrew Pozzi, who has been one to watch on the international stage. The MSc Management graduate caught the eyes of many when he raced to the semi-finals at Rio 2016 and has since tasted gold winning the 60 m hurdles at the 2018 World Indoor Championships in Birmingham. Having achieved a silver medal this year at the 2021 European Indoor Championships, heading to his third Olympic games, the 29-year-old is a strong contender for a medal.
For fans of water sports, 29-year-old rower Angus Groom is once again representing Team GB in the men’s quadruple sculls. Last Olympics, Groom placed fifth and so is expected to go far this Olympics along with the rest of his 45-strong rowing team as they hope to break records.
Whilst the Olympics opened today, the Paralympics are due to commence on the 24 August where Law graduate Dan Bethell will compete in badminton which is making its debut this year. Having achieved silver at the SL3 World Championship in 2019, Bethell will be aiming to make the podium in Tokyo.
Joining Bethell on the world stage is Paralympic triathlete Michael Taylor who has just completed the first year of his medical degree. Viewers can look forward to watching Taylor in the para-triathlon PTS4, as he is not only a two-time GBR Paratriathlon national champion but also won the World Triathlon Para Cup last month.
The University of Bristol can celebrate the athletes competing in this year’s Olympics and Paralympics, many of whom have been a part of the university’s performance squad which supports talented athletes’ dual career aspirations during their time studying, helping them to balance academic work and sporting commitments.
Matt Paine, Performance Sport Manager at the University, said: ‘It's really exciting to have so many students past and present competing in Tokyo. We're hugely proud of their achievements so far, especially given the year-long delay caused by the pandemic.
‘Past and present University of Bristol students won a total of three medals at Rio 2016 and five medals at London 2012, which was a huge achievement, so fingers crossed for similar success in Tokyo this summer.’
Featured image: BBC | Epigram / Canva
Will you be watching the University of Bristol alumni competing in the Olympics in Tokyo?