Universities with the Most Gold Medal Olympians
2012-08-07 04:18 PMStudent Life
We did swear that we weren’t going to mention the Olympics. But something happened during the opening ceremony (we blame Danny Boyle). We shrugged off gripes about the cost, the travel disruption, the corporate brown nosing and became interested in rowing, passionate about hockey and experts in beach volleyball. We can even walk past Wenlock and Mandeville without wanting to punch them in their smug little cyclopean faces. So, in celebration of the Olympics, let us sheepishly countdown the universities with the most gold medalled Olympians in the last 20 years…
Higher, Faster, Stronger
Whatever your opinion about the Olympics, you can’t help but be impressed by people doing things really, really well, after training…er…very, very hard. Fortunately, we aren’t so enthused by the Olympics that we’re going to try and tenuously liken running the 400m hurdles to completing a job application, greasy Greco-Roman wrestling to one-on-one interviews and handball to… nope, we still don’t really know what handball is. So instead, we thought we’d create a list of the universities who have had the most Olympic gold medallists amongst their graduates over the past 20 years. We’ve tried to be as accurate as possible, but with Team GB’s gold medal count rising every day (cue smug smile) we may have missed out some gold medallists.
It might be a small college, but St Mary’s packs a punch when it comes to athletics. Not many university colleges can boast about having their own “Sports Village”. A new £8.5m sports centre and impressive athletics facilities attracted lean-limbed Mo Farah, who took several modules at the University College whilst using its training facilities. It also counts Beijing track pursuit gold medallist Rebecca Romero as a past alumnus. She studied Sports Science and English at the College in 2002.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 54th
Whilst most sportspeople opt for sports-based degrees, Christine Ohuruogu, 400m Olympic gold and silver medallist, studied linguistics at UCL calling it the “best decision [she had] ever made”. With a respectable 2:1 under her belt, she went onto win the Commonwealth Games and then gold at Beijing. We think we’ll award her a first in athletics then.
Andrew Simpson won a sailing gold alongside team mate Iain Percy in the Star class in the Beijing Olympics. This year he managed to add a silver to his medal haul.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 34th
He of the big thighs studied at University of Edinburgh. No, not Kim Kardashian; breakfast cereal loving Chris Hoy. In addition to the impressive collection of five (perhaps soon to be six?) gold medals strung around his tree trunk-like neck is a BSc in Applied Sports Science.
Britain’s most successful female rower with an impressive tally of three Olympic silver medals and one gold, Katherine Grainger also attended the university, picking up an honours law degree. She also has a Master of Philosophy degree in Medical Law from Glasgow University and is studying for a PhD in Law at King’s College London. Phew.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 6th
Sunny Bath is hardly the place you’d expect to find a Winter Olympian, but in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, University of Bath graduate Amy Williams won a gold for the macabrely named skeleton. To top it off, the first British gold medal of the London Olympics was picked up by a University of Bath sports technology graduate, the rower Heather Stanning. No wonder the University of Bath always smashes it in the BUCS league table.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 4th
Ranking number one in the BUCS league table for cycling, it should come as no surprise that the University of Birmingham boasts two cycling gold medallists amongst its alumni: Paul Manning and crusher-of-the-French sprinter Jason Kenny. The University of Birmingham might not have a Pringle-shaped velodrome, but it does have some pretty good facilities to match its sports division’s solid reputation.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 3rd
2nd in the 2011-2012 BUCS overall points league table, Durham University is a sporting force to be reckoned with. Jonathan Edwards, world record holder and triple jump medallist, now more often seen perched on a sofa with Gabby Logan, studied at Durham University. He’s also racked up a significant Twitter following with such gems as “Haha #bolt” and for his revolutionary use of back-to-front smileys, “Talking a lot about injuries this morning! ):” Jonathan Edwards, you joker.
Sophie Hosking, whose rowing partner Katherine Copeland surely should win an additional medal for best slack-jawed reaction to winning gold, is an ex-Durham student who won gold in the lightweight double sculls. She is also impressively good at dry sobbing.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 2nd
The past 20 years has seen the University of Reading add three gold medallists to its list of notable alumni. This being Team GB, predictably they are all rowers. James Cracknell, Garry Herbert and Alex Gregory have all rowed to Olympic glory after dipping their oar in university education. Its close proximity to the River Thames means that the University of Reading regularly ranks amongst the top universities for rowing.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 32nd
Naturally, the universities with the largest number of gold medallists are strong in water sports. Imperial College London is no exception with alumni Simon Dennis, Louis Attrill and Luka Grubor all rowing for gold in the Sydney Olympics. Sitting just behind the University of Reading in the 2011-12 BUCS rowing league table, it seems like Imperial is the place to be if you want to hit the water.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 18th
You’ll be relieved to know that the University of Nottingham has had no rowing Olympic medallists in the past 20 years. Its golden winners come from another water-based discipline: canoeing. Tim Brabants won gold in the Beijing Olympics, whilst Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott pipped fellow University of Nottingham graduate David Florence and Nottingham Trent graduate Richard Hounslow to the post in the London Olympics.
So is there something in the water at Nottingham? Or is just because the National Watersports Centre Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham is home to GB canoeing? Probably the latter we think.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 9th
Yet more rowing gold medallists can be found at Oxford Brookes. Past students Ben Hunt-Davies, Fred Scarlett, Steve Williams and Rowley Douglas are all gold medallists, giving the University an oarsome (sorry) tally of four gold medallists in the last 20 years.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 53rd
The University of Cambridge boasts four gold medallists in the last 20 years, three for rowing (we’re fresh out of rowing puns) and one for modern pentathlon. So that’s Kieran West and recent medallists Tom James and Anna Watkins for rowing and Steph Cook for modern pentathlon (which is a heady mixture of pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping and cross country running).
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 14th
The University of Oxford leads the pack when it comes to recent gold medallists, with a staggering eight gold medals. So what are they in? Athletics? Cycling? Swimming? Nope, rowing.
Matthew Pinsent and Andrew Triggs-Hodge are amongst Oxford’s seven rowing gold medallists in the past 20 years, whilst our old friend Steph Cook (the modern pentathlete) crops up again. After Cambridge, she completed her course in clinical medicine at Oxford.
BUCS 2011-12 Overall position: 12th
"What about Loughborough?" I hear you cry. Well, despite hordes of athletes and sports people studying at Loughborough (and its dominance of the BUCS league table), it hasn’t produced a single gold medallist Olympian in the past 20 years. Tut tut. Still, of the 535 athletes who make up Team GB for London 2012, a staggering 46 are graduates or students from Loughborough University.
Other universities with gold medallist alumni…
Newcastle University: Ed Coode (rowing)
Bath Spa University: Jason Gardener (athletics)
Southampton Solent: Paul Goodison (sailing)
Brunel University: Audley Harrison (boxing)
Northumbria University: Victoria Pendleton (cycling)
Bristol University: Iain Percy (sailing)
Lancaster University: Jason Queally (cycling)
University of the West of England: Pete Reed (rowing)
London South Bank University: Greg Searle (rowing)
Nottingham Trent University: Steve Trapmore (rowing)
Staffordshire University: Andrew Triggs-Hodge (rowing)
University of Portsmouth: Sarah Webb (sailing)
Kings College London: Kieran West (rowing)
University of Sheffield: Jessica Ennis (athletics)
Bournemouth University: Peter Wilson (shooting)
Cardiff Met University: Helen Glover (rowing)
University of Leeds: Alistair Brownlee (triathlon)