Six Of GB Best Ready For University Challenge
Fingers on buzzers…..which six athletes are en route to represent Great Britain at the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea?
World champion Bianca Walkden and London 2012 bronze medallist, Lutalo Muhammad for starters.
And the duo will be joined by fellow students: Jordan Gayle, Christian McNeish, Jade Slavin and Harriet Akeroyd.
Yorkshire teenager Akeroyd, a member of Quest Taekwondo club who attends Leeds Beckett University, is the only non GB Academy member.
For Mancunian Gayle, it’s his first taste of a multi sports Games since 2007 when he competed at the Youth Olympics in Australia.
Now 23, and studying at Manchester College to become a personal trainer, he admits:”I found it hard to balance studying and training when I was younger.
“I used to do a Sports BTEC NVQ and I struggled because I just didn’t enjoy it. I was literally doing it because I knew I had to get something behind me.
“This course I really enjoy so it makes combining studying, training and competing a little easier.”
Gayle’s main focus, however, this weekend is trying to add to Britain’s recent World and European successes. Walkden was one of three medallists at the World Championships in Russia while Muhammad took bronze to go with gold medals for Jade Jones and Charlie Maddock at the European Games in Azerbaijan.
“It will be tough but I am confident going into any competition,” adds Gayle, 24 later this month. “If I can put in some serious performances there is no reason why I can’t come away with a gold medal.
“Am I motivated by the success the team has had? Well, I am not surprised by it because I know how good our team is. It doesn’t make a difference how things are going, especially in taekwondo.
“But I wouldn’t be shocked if the team was doing badly because taekwondo is a sport of such fine margins. Just a few points here and there can change things so much. The most important thing for me is going out there and performing the way I know I can perform.”
Studies are also on hold for Gayle’s team mates including Muhammad, studying for a Sports Sciences degree at Middlesex University, and who also competed at the 2011 University Games in Shenzhen, China.
For the record, Walkden-like Gayle-attends Manchester College to obtain a Personal Training, Level 3 qualification. Business student McNeish, a 2014 Youth Olympics bronze medallist, is at Connell College, Manchester, Commonwealth champion, Slavin, is a graduate of Northumbria University while 19-year-old Akeroyd from Settle is a Sports Sciences student at Beckett, formerly Leeds Met University.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially in my first year in seniors,” she confirmed. “Hopefully, it will lead to bigger and better things.”
-68kg: Christian McNeish (Plaistow)
-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)
-63kg: Jordan Gayle (Manchester)
+73kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)
-53kg: Harriet Akeroyd
-73 kg: Jade Slavin (Consett)