Great Britain’s substantial delegation ready for action at the 2011 World University Games

Great Britain’s substantial delegation ready for action at the 2011 World University Games

British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) take Great Britain’s largest delegation to date to the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China. Team GBR consists of 220 athletes and support staff across 16 sports, many viewing the Games as incredible preparation in the run up to London 2012.

The athletes are selected from 44 world-class universities across every region of the UK and the team is arguably Great Britain’s strongest so far. Team GBR is hoping to improve on Belgrade 2009 where they finished 18th in the medal tally.

Team GBR Chef de Mission Graeme Maw is happy with preparations in the lead up and expects Shenzhen to be a friendly but also very competitive Games.

“The preparation has been very good across the board. I think Shenzhen can be viewed as a transition from a Chinese Olympiad to a British Olympiad from Beijing to London,” said Maw. “This team is coming out very strong. There has been a marked step up in the management standard of sport in the country with the focus of the world class programmes that represent Great Britain at Olympic level. This is reflected in the high level of management and athletes here.”

Andy Hibbert, Deputy Chef de Mission is confident in the team, but admits it is difficult to predict medals.

“This is what makes these Games great in many ways because it will be very hard to predict. Some sports will be Olympic and world championship standard, when others sports will be somewhere else on that sport continuum, paired with the fact that you don’t know who is going to be here,” said Hibbert.

Great Britain has a number of Olympic hopefuls among the competitors in Shenzhen. Women’s water polo is taking full advantage of competition on the international stage, fielding their Olympic squad in China. Most of the team, which trains at a centralised base in a programme supported by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme and the University of Manchester, are in higher education making them eligible for the Games.

The swimmers present further medal opportunities with a solid team including Loughborough University’s Sophie Casson who will compete in the open water swim.

Team GBR will feature on the athletics track and field in a big way with the women’s basketball team also one to watch. Taekwondo Kyorugi will see Dawud Izza (SOAS University of London), Lutalo Massop-Muhammad (Middlesex University) and Joshua Webley (Brunel University) fighting for podium places in their respective weight categories.

The fencers have medals in sight, the team including Alex O’Connell who already has experience at Olympic level competing in Beijing 2008. He is joined by strong teammates Edward Jefferies (Birkbeck, University of London), Husayn Rosowsky (Greenwich University), James Davis (Middlesex University), Marcus Mepstead (LSE, University of London) and Jenny McGeever (Royal Holloway, University of London), all of whom have proved their capability at junior level.

BUCS’ Great Britain team promises to show strength in both men and women’s football, the men preparing with a pre-Games training week at Swedish club, Ostersund FK in July. Football kicks off Team GBR’s participation in the University Games, with both the men and women meeting Canada in their first matches on 11 August.

In Shenzhen, Team GBR will contend in Athletics, Badminton, Basketball (women), Diving, Fencing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics (Artistic), Judo, Shooting, Swimming, Taekwondo Kyurogi, Taekwondo Poomsae, Tennis, Water Polo (women) and Weightlifting.

The official sponsor and international teamwear supplier of Team GBR is ‘Xtep’, a Chinese leisurewear manufacturer.

BUCS is the national governing body for higher education sport in the UK, and the organising body for Great Britain teams in international University Sport. It offers a comprehensive, multi-sport competition structure and manages the development of services and facilities for participative, grass-roots sport and healthy campuses through to high-performance athletes.

The patron of BUCS is HRH The Princess Royal, herself an Olympian and IOC member.