It’s the end of another outstanding year of sport at the University of Bath which saw world-class tennis and modern pentathlon come to the Sports Training Village (STV) while athletes and students excelled on the world stage.
The £35million STV successfully hosted two major international sporting events in 2019, including the first Fed Cup tennis tie to be staged in Great Britain for 26 years.
The indoor courts were transformed into a showcase arena as more than 16,000 spectators enjoyed four action-packed days of women’s tennis, culminating in overall victory for a GB team featuring the talents of Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Katie Boulter, Katie Swan and Harriet Dart.
There was plenty of cause for home celebration during August’s Modern Pentathlon European Championships at the STV too, where Pentathlon GB won five gold medals over the course of six exciting days of sport.
Hundreds of spectators packed into the Team Bath Arena and the London 2012 Legacy Pool to watch the fencing and swimming before heading outside to enjoy the show-jumping on a transformed athletics infield and then cheer on the competitors from 25 different nations in the decisive run-shoot.
Among those excelling on home soil at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event were Jamie Cooke, who won the men’s title in magnificent fashion, and Kate French, a silver-medallist in the women’s final.
She also secured a podium place at the following month’s World Championships, as did fellow University of Bath graduate Joe Choong who was named as World Pentathlon Male Athlete of the Year after winning silver in Budapest and gold at the World Cup Final in Tokyo – the test event for next summer’s Olympic Games.
Other University-based athletes heading into Olympic and Paralympic year on the back of World Championship success include wheelchair fencing gold-medallists Dimitri Coutya and Piers Gilliver, whose dominance was such in 2019 that they won 19 of the 20 international medals they contested.
Paul Blake won the third T36 800m World Championships gold of his career with a standout performance in Doha and Team Bath AS swimmer Stephanie Millward – one of five inductees into the University’s Hall of Fame for Sport this year – added two more titles to her collection with a relay double at the London 2019 World Para-Swimming Championships.
James Guy, part of the British Swimming National Centre Bath squad, also struck gold in the pool at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest and Serena Guthrie captained an England side featuring Team Bath colleague Eboni Usoro-Brown to a bronze medal at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
Notable successes by students saw Sophie Drakeford-Lewis voted as Superleague Young Player of the Year after helping Team Bath Netball to a third-placed finish overall in the 2019 league competition.
Fellow Bill Whiteley Sporting Scholar Tom Dean sliced an incredible seven seconds off his personal best as he won 400m freestyle silver at the European Short-Course Swimming Championships.
Tim Nurse once again played a key role as Great Britain Hockey U21s successfully defended the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia and Kirsty Way – who, like Nurse, is supported by a King Scholarship – won team DMT (double mini trampoline) silver with Great Britain at the World Championships in Tokyo.
Buchan Jones scholar Ben Jones helped GB to the final of the Master’U BNP Paribas student team tennis tournament in France for a second year running and Laura Macro, part of the GB Rowing Team World-Class Start squad at the University, won lightweight women’s single gold at both the European University Sports Association Championships in Sweden and the Henley Women’s Regatta.
Back at home, the continual investment in facilities at the Sports Training Village saw the opening of the new Team Bath Gym & Fitness Centre – a state-of-the-are two-storey extension that more than doubled the exercise space and included two dedicated studios to greatly increase the number of exercise classes.
A new retractable swim wall was installed in the London 2012 Legacy Pool to allow 25m and 50m training, with the New Zealand para-swimming squad – who spent ten days at the University ahead of the World Championships in London – among the international athletes to have benefited.
The gym and pool, like all of our facilities, are open to the public and Team Bath’s commitment to helping people of all ages and ability achieve their health goals was recognised by two accolades at the Bath Life Awards including the prestigious Platinum Award for best category winner overall.
With another memorable year drawing to a close, attention now turns to 2020 – an Olympic and Paralympic year when athletes based at the University will be bidding to represent their countries on the biggest sporting stage of all.
Follow the build-up to Tokyo 2020 by visiting www.teambath.com/tokyo2020.
Courtesy of the Team Bath Press Office at Matchtight