Posted on 04/11/2011
Current STARS students with alumni sporting champions Tom Bennett and Jessica Eddie
Elite student athletes studying at Royal Holloway, University of London came together for the annual STARS awards evening last night (3 November), in the College’s Windsor Building.
Since the introduction of the Student Talented Athlete Recognition Scheme (STARS) in 1996 the College has developed a strong tradition of supporting elite athletes during their time studying at the College. The Beijing Olympics saw six students/alumni form Royal Holloway competing for their respective countries, two of whom medalled.
The evening was an opportunity to celebrate current and past successes and mark the College’s role as a 2012 Olympic Village by unveiling a new Olympics display. The collection consists of framed, signed GB kits of our alumni sporting champions complete with their photograph and description of their sporting achievements.
Vice Principal, Geoff Ward , who hosted the evening, said: “The collection of kits, donated by alumni, some of whom are here this evening, reflects Royal Holloway’s recent history with the Olympic and Paralympic Games and how STARS has supported elite student athletes during their time at the College. Furthermore, the College is delighted that it will be hosting elite athlete from all over the world, as we become one of three Olympic Villages this summer.”
He described the STARS evening as a great opportunity to bring members of the College and College community together to recognise Royal Holloway’s sporting excellence.
The STARS scheme helps students reach their full potential in both sporting and academic life and provides bursaries, training and academic support during their studies. This year 30 STARS students were selected as part the scheme and all were presented with certificates from the Principal, Professor Paul Layzell.
The guest speaker of the night was Matthew Syed, British journalist, broadcaster, Olympian and author of Bounce, a book described as “one of the most intelligent and thought-provoking books about sport ever written.”
Mr Syed is currently a columnist and feature writer for The Times and has won many prizes for his writing, including Sports Journalist of the Year.
Before becoming a writer he was the England table tennis number one for almost a decade, three-times Commonwealth Champion, and twice competed for Great Britain in the Olympic Games (in Barcelona in 1992 and Sydney in 2000).
The Olympian talked about what it takes to be the best and says contrary to what you may hear about it being something you’re born with or in your genes it’s about “hard-work, both the quantity and quality of it. Nobody reaches the top without years of hard work.”
He said it was important, especially for the younger generation to understand this – in all walks of life not just sporting - that failure is an inevitable part of learning. He says when people struggle, for example, with Maths they can often resign themselves to the fact that they are just not naturally good at it when in fact it is something that is learnt through working hard.
“If we understood it’s all about effort and hard work we would not see difficult challenges or obstacles as a reason to give up but we’d understand that anybody who has become good at something has had struggle along the way”, Mr Syed said.