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Ian Marsden

Ian Marsden is a medal-winning paralympic athlete who has represented Great Britain at the Rio and Tokyo Games and at the European and World Championship level in multiple sports.

He began his sporting career as an able-bodied member of the British Powerlifting Team, winning his first British Open Powerlifting Championships in 1989. Over ten years, Ian held British and European titles, broke multiple records for the teenage and junior classes, as well as three world, four European, and six British records. In 1992, he won the World and European titles and eventually received a special commendation from the sport’s governing body.

Then, in 1995, Ian suffered a spinal injury that resulted in him becoming wheelchair bound. During his recovery, he returned to education, completing qualifications at Stafford College before embarking on a degree in microbiology and biochemistry at Staffordshire University in 1997. After graduating in 2000, Ian took a job at Birmingham Children's Hospital, before becoming a veterinary pathologist in Newcastle-under-Lyme – a position he held for 12 years.

Despite the injury, Ian always had his sights set on returning to sport, and he soon discovered handcycling. He quickly progressed and started representing Great Britain on the European Handcycling Circuit, where he became the first British male to win a podium position.

He also took up air rifle shooting and started training with Rugeley Rifle club, before being talent spotted by the GB Paralympics team. He joined the 2012 Fast Track Talent Programme, in London, and went on to represent Great Britain in 10m target air rifle shooting – winning a silver and bronze in competition.

During his shooting career, Ian was asked if he would like to attend a talent ID day for paracanoe, in Nottingham. This led to regular training sessions and he eventually joined the paracanoe GB sprint team. Between 2013 to 2015, he took multiple silver and gold medals at the European and World Championships. Then, in 2016, Ian won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and went on to represent Great Britain again, at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Ian in recognition of his achievements across multiple sports at the British, European, and World level, and for being an inspiration to both able bodied and disable athletes.

Photo of Ian Marsden

Ian Marsden was bestowed the award in 2022

It came as a big surprise to learn I would be receiving an honorary degree from Staffordshire University. I would like to use the award to help current students, to inspire them to keep up the hard work. I never thought I was good at sport because I’m a natural. It’s about putting 100% into it. It’s about focusing, working hard, and fully committing.

Ian Marsden