Sheffield’s sporting stars of the future have received a boost in their push for glory.
Rio silver medallist Bryony Page returned to the University of Sheffield, where she studied, to meet the latest crop of high-flying athletes.
Britain’s first ever Olympic trampolining medallist awarded 50 students with scholarships designed to smooth their path to the top.
The Elite Sports Performance Scheme launched in 2010 to help students pursue sporting ambitions amid exams and seminars.
It provides financial aid, such as free gym membership and travel expenses, along with mentoring and training to get them in peak physical condition.
Bryony, who graduated last year with a degree in biology, and 2013 economics graduate Hollie Webb, part of Britain’s Olympic gold-medal winning hockey team, are among the previous recipients who made the most of the extra assistance.
Bryony said: “I had so much support from the guys throughout my time here and it’s nice to meet students who will benefit in the same way.
“It’s really nice to come back and hopefully inspire them but also to be a part of what’s happening here.”
Jessica Ennis-Hill and BBC presenter Dan Walker, both Sheffield alumni, are patrons of the initiative, funded by local organisations, businesses and alumni.
Climbers Jennifer Wood, aged 21, and Connor Byrne, 20, who have just returned from representing Britain at the World University Championships in China, are among the university’s latest batch of sporting scholars.
The pair have their sights set on Tokyo 2020, where sport climbing will make its bow as an Olympic event.
Meet the University of Sheffield’s sporting stars of the future
Steven Bayton, aged 25, athletics, studying for a PhD in civil engineering.
Steven won the 2016 ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon, in his competitive debut at the distance, clocking an impressive 2h 22m 34s. He also finished 13th at this year’s British Universities & Colleges Sport Cross Country Championships. He hopes to represent Britain at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 or 2022.
Rebecca Bedford, 18, para-badminton, studying history.
More a star of the present than one for the future, Rebecca struck gold in the women’s doubles at the 2015 World Championships and achieved the number one ranking in the event in September last year. She is part of the newly formed British squad hoping to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Connor Byrne, 20, climbing, studying for a masters in aerospace engineering.
Connor racked up victories in two British junior competitions during 2015, and also won the BUCS lead climbing competition held in Sheffield last year.
Following his promotion to the senior ranks, he finished 59th in the IFSC Lead World Cup in August this year.
Tommy Horton, 23, athletics, studying for a PhD in civil engineering.
Tommy has made an explosive start to his athletics career. He won his first two competitive steeplechase races for England this year and also triumphed at the 2016 England Athletics AAA Senior Championship/CAU Inter-County Championships. His goal is to make the Commonwealth Games.
Jennifer Wood, 21, climbing, studying for a masters in microbiology and biochemistry
Jennifer Wood finished third and fourth respectively in the boulder and lead climbing events at the European University Games, and won the British speed title this year just months after taking up the discipline.