King’s Olympians: Going for Gold

This year, King’s students and alumni have plenty of reason to hope for great results at the Olympics with an impressive King’s line up primed for the starting blocks.

Rowing, 5th Olympics, (PhD Law, 2013)

Set to compete in her record fifth Olympics, Katherine Grainger is searching for another medal to add to the three silvers she won in Sydney, Athens and Beijing and the gold won at London 2012.

Last May, Katherine competed in the European Championships in Poznan, Poland, taking home a bronze medal in the double sculls alongside new rowing partner Vicky Thornley. The pair then went on to win bronze at the World Cup II in Italy before qualifying for Rio 2016 at the World Rowing Championships in France.

‘I took two years away from rowing after the London Olympics but then the lure of competing in another Olympic Games was too strong to resist. Last summer we managed to qualify the boat for the Olympics and now all sights are firmly set on Rio. I’m delighted to be one of a group of King’s alumni competing for Great Britain and hope the whole King’s community will be cheering us on in August.’

Paracyclist, Track and Road, 1st Olympics (MA Disasters Adaptation and Development, 2012)

Paracyclist and King’s alumna Liz Saul experienced a short, sharp rise through her sport and is now ranked as one of the UK’s top competitors. She is now working hard towards qualification for Rio. Back in 2012, Liz was busy completing her MA in Disasters Adaptation and Development while enjoying the excitement of the London games as a spectator. Little did she know she would potentially be competing in four years’ time.

Liz originally took up cycling for her university commute, but after participating in ‘Ride to Rio’ she made her way through the talent identification programme, progressing to the Paralympic Development Squad.

A broken collarbone in October 2015 posed an additional challenge to Liz’s Olympic preparations, but she threw herself into training. Although final Paralympic squads won’t be announced until June, Liz is hoping to qualify and enjoying every experience along the way.

Sprinter 100m & 200m, 1st Olympics (History)

One of team GB’s strongest hopes for a medal on the track, Dina Asher-Smith arrived at King’s as World Junior 100m Champion, and since then the second year History student has gone from strength to strength. She is now the double British champion and 100m national record holder.

Dina is also a strong challenger in the 200m, pushing 2012 Olympic Champion Allyson Felix hard at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix.

As Britain’s fastest woman and British record holder, Dina looks set for an action packed 2016 and an exciting Olympics.

Sprinter 400m, 1st Olympics (Geography)

Since arriving at King’s, second year Geography student and 400m sprinter Laviai Nielsen has made rapid progress, coming through the King’s Performance programme under the supervision of Performance Coach Edward Young.

Laviai undertakes all of her strength and conditioning coaching at King’s and is seeing great results, reducing her personal best in the 400m by over 1.5s.

Laviai became the 2015 400m European Junior Champion before adding a second gold medal in the final leg of a victorious 4x400m relay team just two days later, becoming the fastest athlete under 20 in the world.

King’s Performance Coach Edward Young says, ‘I have been extremely impressed by her commitment to training but moreover her interest to learn. I truly believe she is destined for greatness.’

400m Hurdles, 1st Olympics (Global Health and Medicine)

BSc Global Health student Shona Richards arrived at King’s in 2015 as a rising sprint talent. She had an already impressive CV with two world junior championship silver medals and a British junior record.

Shona produced an outstanding performance in the final of the 400m hurdles to take a silver medal in a record time of 56.16s, before adding a team silver medal in the 4x400m relay final.

In early 2015, Shona suffered a broken collarbone during training, but returned to competition in mid-May 2015, competing at the European Under-23 Championships in Estonia and recording a personal best of 56.05s.