As another sporting year begins, many of those competing at the University of Nottingham will be hoping that university sport will act as a springboard towards professional success. With the first issue of the year, Impact Sport has decided to profile a selection of sporting alumni for current students to aspire to – a list ranging from table tennis players to canoeists, skeleton bobsleighers to cricketers.
Our first success story is British skeleton racer Kristan Bromley, nicknamed “Dr.Ice” by the British media after graduating in 1994 with a BEng in Mechanical Design, Materials and Manufacture and earning his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering.
In November 1999, Bromley became the first British man to win a Skeleton World Cup race, achieving the feat in Calgary, Canada, before going on to claim the overall World Cup title in both 2003-04 and 2007-08. In addition to his World Cup success, Bromley has acquired three European Championship golds, as well as claiming Britain’s first gold medal at the FIBT World Championships since 1965. This makes him the first bob skeleton slider to win all three major competitions.
To those familiar with BBC’s rugby coverage, the voice of Brian Moore has become almost synonymous with England’s recent fortunes. It was at the University of Nottingham where Moore began his rugby career, enjoying success with the rugby 1st XV, most notably at Twickenham in the final of the British Universities rugby championship.
Moore enjoyed an illustrious playing career, representing Harlequins, Leeds, Nottingham and Richmond, as well as winning 64 caps for England and six more for the British Lions. He played in the 1991 World Cup final against Australia at Twickenham – the same year that he was elected Rugby World Player of the Year – and was part of the England squad that won the much coveted Five Nations ‘grand slam’ in 1991, 1992 and 1995.
While those mentioned already have all started off their illustrious careers at the University of Nottingham, it was to complete a master’s degree at the end of her career in 2002 that brought Deng Yaping grace University Park with her presence. Although an almost unknown name to most people in Britain, the former table tennis star possesses a David Beckham-esque status in her native China where she was voted Chinese Athlete of the Century in 2003.
Despite an early retirement at the young age of 24, Deng had managed to rack up four Olympic gold medals, 18 World Championship golds, and had retained a hold on the World Number One title for 8 straight years. Such success was a far cry from her rejection from the Chinese National Team at the age of 13 for being too short at just 4’11”.
A five year break in his West Indies Test Match career allowed Deryck Murray to complete the small task of an Industrial Economics degree at the University of Nottingham in 1972. As well as captaining the University First XI and the Universities Athletic Union, the Trinidadian represented both Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire during his professional career.
An understated wicketkeeper, Murray claimed 181 catches and scored just shy of 2000 runs for his country in a test career spanning 62 matches. He was also a member of two World Cup winning teams before going onto become an International Match Referee.
At the time of publication it will be apparent whether Tim Brabants, another Nottingham alumnus, has fulfilled expectations as one of Britain’s brightest hopes of a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics this summer. Brabants is the current World and European KI 1000m canoe champion, after a return to the sport following a break to complete his medical studies at Nottingham in 2005. Bronze at the Sydney Olympics was followed by a disappointing fifth place four years later in Athens but results in 2007 saw him claim four international gold medals, including his World Championship title.
As if striving to win an Olympic gold medal was not time consuming enough, Brabants also works part- and occasionally full-time as a doctor.
Ben Bloom and Charlie Eccleshare