Second year student Thea Fenwick claimed bronze with an impressive display in the Women's Freeski Slopestyle event at the FISU Winter World University Games held in Lake Placid, New York State, last month.
1,443 collegiate-athletes, from 46 countries, representing more than 540 universities, participated in the international competition and Thea won one of just three medals that the United Kingdom took home.
The 21-year-old from Scarborough said: “It feels great! I didn’t go into it expecting to get a medal but after grafting so hard for so long it all feels worth it now. I’m super chuffed, the whole experience exceeded my expectations!”
Thea was joined at the Games by fellow Staffordshire University student Sam Morris who represented Team GB in speed skating.
The pair both study BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Psychology via distance learning, which allows them to train alongside studying, and are members of the Staffordshire University’s High Performance Academy. The programme supports talented athletes, coaches and officials through bursaries and bespoke development plans including strength and conditioning, nutrition advice, sports therapy sessions, and much more.
The athletes have also been working with sports psychologist Lyle Kirkham who is a Staffordshire University graduate himself.
Sam, 20, lives in Heerenveen in the Netherlands to train and skate at the highest level. He explained: “Competing at the World University Games was an incredible experience and gave me a real insight at what a top-level competition is run like. Staffordshire university has given me lots of support through the High Performance Academy programme, such as access to a sports psychologist which was ideal during my preparation.”
Thea said: “The High Performance Academy has been amazing. They helped to pay for this specific event on top of my bursary which was really helpful because I probably wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise.
“We’ve got fitness training and my sports psychologist Lyle is an absolute star! It’s been a huge support because my sport is predominately psychological, so it was useful to have that on hand. We worked together trying out different tactics, finding what gets me psyched up before competing and also accepting that maybe at some point I might fall, but that’s ok.”
After arriving home, the pair are straight back to their second-year studies and are looking to the future.
“I hope to continue skating at a high level with in-line speed skating and compete at the World Championships in Italy this August - then be back on the ice next winter!” Sam commented.
Thea added: “I’m not 100% sure what the plan is for the future, but I would like to look into practicing sports psychology. The way my sports psychologist has helped me has been amazing, so it’d be great to help others in the same way.”
Discover more about the High Performance Academy or Staffordshire University’s range of Sport and Exercise courses.