Physical Education and Sport & Exercise Science graduate, Grace Balsdon, scored the winning goal to help Team GB Women’s Hockey team secure the bronze medal and a podium position at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Grace was an Elite Christ Church Sport Scholar from 2011- 2014, receiving a bursary and support from the University to help her balance studies alongside her sporting schedule.
Before the Olympic Games, Grace said: “It’s an amazing feeling. Being part of the whole Team GB alongside incredible athletes, such as Adam Peaty and Christ Church’s Honorary Doctor Dina Asher-Smith, is amazing and I am really looking forward to it.”
“I was extremely privileged to join the Sport Scholarship programme. Training at the University’s facilities was invaluable and being in an environment that supported me both physically and mentally really enabled me to achieve my goals.”
Paul Carney, Director of Sport and Active Health at the University, said: “This is a fantastic achievement by our former Sports Scholar, Grace Balsdon and Team GB.
“It’s a privilege to see such a great talent come through our University and to watch her progress and grow in her professional sporting career. Having taught Grace as a student and seeing first hand how hard she has worked to realise her dream; I am just so happy for her.
“On behalf of the University community, we’d like to send huge congratulations to Grace, her family (Dr. Andy Balsdon was a long time member of staff at the University) and the whole Women’s Hockey team for their outstanding achievement.”
The University’s Sport Scholarship programme is recognised by Sport England’s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) and the University as a Dual Career Accredited Site which acknowledges an enhanced level of academic flexibility allowing talented athletes to balance their studies alongside a sporting schedule.
As a Sport Scholar, students enjoy a financial bursary, University gym membership, personal training, mentoring, sports science support and an environment that will help them to achieve both sporting and academic potential. Sport scholarships are available in a range of sports, including disability sport. The environment that we create, and the support that we provide to our scholars means that we have incredibly high retention rates on the programme (circa. 98%) with many scholars reporting that the programme has a positive impact on both their academic and sporting success. The University has relationships with several high-profile clubs which enables Elite Scholarships, including Canterbury Rugby Club and Kent County Cricket Club, where talented athletes may combine playing a high standard of sport with their university studies.