Elite Sports Scholarships awarded to promising athletes

Talented young student athletes at the University of Sheffield were presented with scholarships to support their sporting ambitions at a special event on Thursday 15 March.

In a ceremony at the Students’ Union, 31 students were awarded the Elite Sport Performance Scheme (ESPS) scholarship for their sporting potential and their commitment to succeed in both academia and athletics.

Group shot of 2012 ESPS Scholars with Dan Walker

Dan Walker, BBC Sports presenter and University of Sheffield alumnus, presented the awards as a patron of the scheme. Dan said: “The scheme is a way for the young athletes to take a big step forward. It’s another part of building a significant sporting centre for many years to come. Jessica Ennis was here last year and I’m sure every one of the scholars is inspired by her success on the track. She’s been through university so she knows how important this sort of support can be for the people doing a sport at the same time. The hope is that some of the young men and women can go on to achieve something similar.”

The Elite Sport Performance Scheme was launched in 2010 by Sheffield’s very own World Champion Heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who is also a patron of the scheme. The ESPS provides financial and non-financial support to talented student athletes at the University, with benefits ranging from free access to the S10 Health Fitness Centre to strength and conditioning support, physiotherapy and lifestyle mentoring and financial assistance.

The highest level of support includes a scholarship worth £1,000 which has been generously donated by local companies, alumni and friends of the University.

It is hoped that the support of the ESPS will inspire the next generation of Sheffield University athletes to become World or Olympic Champions in their sport.

One of the scholars, Great Britain hockey player Hollie Webb, is studying Economics and also plays for a nearby club and the University team. She has to train several times a week on top of her studies. She said: “Without the scholarship I wouldn’t be able to play at the level I am and do well at university, so it’s helping me to reach my goals. Before coming to university I had a part time job to pay for transport so I could get to training. Now I’m at university I wouldn’t really have been able to work, so something would have had to give. The scholarship was one of the reasons I chose to come to the University as there are not many others that would offer something like this.”

Dr Philip Harvey, Registrar and Secretary of the University of Sheffield, said: "I am delighted to see these talented young athletes receive the support they need to help them excel in their studies and the sporting arena through our Elite Sport Performance Scheme. We have some very promising students at the University and we hope the scheme's vital support, alongside inspirational patrons such as Jessica Ennis, will help them to become the sporting champions of tomorrow."

Miles Stevenson, Director of Development, said: "We are extremely grateful to the alumni, staff, friends and organisations that made donations to help this scheme continue its fantastic work. It is with their help that these elite student athletes can perform at the highest level, whilst receiving a world-class degree from the University of Sheffield."

Westfield Health is providing financial backing for the scholarships. Paul Shires, Westfield Health Sales and Marketing Director, said: “This scheme is a perfect example of health, education and business working together towards a common goal, and we’re delighted to be involved.

“We’ll be following the progress of the athletes and cheering them on all the way, in the knowledge that Westfield Health helped make a difference.”

For more information on supporting the scheme please contact David Meadows in the Development and Alumni Relations Office

More about the Elite Sport Performance Scheme

More about Sport Sheffield