27 October 2010

Sports star launches scheme for student athletes

Jessica and Elite Sport Performance Scheme recipients

World champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis presented a host of scholarships to elite student athletes at the University of Sheffield on 26 October 2010, as part of a new scheme to help promising athletes excel in academia and sport.

28 students are set to benefit from the University´s Elite Sport Performance Scheme (ESPS), which has been launched this year to provide financial and non-financial support to talented student athletes at the University, who are representing England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland in one of Sport England´s recognised sports.

The scheme is split into two levels and the celebration event saw Jessica, who is patron of the scheme, congratulate the 17 students awarded Level 1 support and the 11 students chosen for the Level 2 tier.

Level 1 recipients will benefit from full access to the S10 Health and Fitness Centre, access to physiotherapy support, regular lifestyle mentoring and the opportunity to discuss academic flexibility on a case by case basis, to enable them to continue to study at the University whilst taking part in their sport at the highest level.

Thanks to generous donations from alumni and friends of the University, as well as local Sheffield businesses and organisations, the students chosen for Level 2 of the Elite Sport Performance Scheme were awarded with Scholarships worth £1,000 over one year, to help with equipment and training costs, as well as travel expenses. Level 2 recipients also receive all the benefits given to the Level 1 students.

Two lucky students were also presented with additional awards at last night´s launch event, which was held at the newly refurbished Students´ Union and attended by the University´s Vice-Chancellor Professor Keith Burnett, Dr Philip Harvey, Registrar and Secretary, staff and students, as well as representatives from local companies and sporting organisations.

Jessica Ennis speaking at the launch event

As well as gaining Level 2 support, Hollie Webb, 20, a first-year Economics and Social Policy student, who plays hockey for England and Great Britain in the under 21 category, was chosen for a further award. Hollie will now receive a year´s free accommodation at the University´s Endcliffe Village worth £4,360, courtesy of Catalyst Higher Education (Sheffield) Plc. In addition, the University´s Accommodation and Commercial Services (ACS) has agreed to provide Hollie with a complimentary eatwithUS card, enabling her to buy free products from any of the eatwithUS food and drink outlets for one year.

Table tennis champ David Wetherill, 20, a third-year student studying for an MChem in Biological Chemistry, who has already competed in the Beijing Paralympics and is a hopeful for the 2012 Paralympics, was awarded the Registrar´s Award. The award recognises the most promising student athlete and will see David receive £1,500 on top of the Level 1 benefits.

At the ceremony, Jessica, who studied Psychology at the University between 2004 and 2007, while continuing her athletics training, talked to students and shared her own experiences of balancing her university studies with her sporting commitments.

Jessica, who scooped a gold medal at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin and another gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University in January. Last week, she was shortlisted for the IAAF World Athlete of the Year Award.

It is hoped that the launch of the ESPS will inspire budding sportsmen and women at the University to become World or Olympic champions in their sport, just as Jessica has done.

University of Sheffield alumnus and Sheffield-born heptathlete Jessica Ennis, said: "I am delighted to be the first patron of this scheme. Studying at the University of Sheffield has enabled me to get a world-class degree whilst balancing my training and competition commitments. I hope that I can help to inspire the next generation of Sheffield students to become World or Olympic champions."

Miles Stevenson, Director of Development in the Alumni Relations Office at the University of Sheffield, said: "We are extremely grateful to the alumni, staff, friends and organisations that have made a donation to help make this scheme possible. It is with their help that the University can now offer scholarships to elite student athletes wishing to perform at the highest level whilst receiving a world-class degree from the University of Sheffield."

Dr Philip Harvey, Registrar and Secretary of the University of Sheffield, added: "I am delighted to be launching this new scheme to enable talented young athletes at the University of Sheffield to receive the support they need to help them excel in their studies and the sporting arena. We have some very promising students at the University and the support that they are receiving this evening will be invaluable to them and will help them follow in Jessica's footsteps and hopefully become the next World champion."

Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said: "The University is delighted to be launching such a vital scheme to help our elite athletes excel both in their academic and sporting achievements. I feel extremely proud to list Jessica as one of our University alumni as she has been an ambassador for both the University and the city of Sheffield. I hope her role as patron of the Elite Sport Performance Scheme will help inspire elite athletes at the University to become the sporting champions of tomorrow."