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Ones to watch – meet our newly graduated sports scholars

Every year BU supports talented sportspeople to excel in their studies and sport. As our class of 2019 prepare to gradate, we caught up with two former sports scholars to find out what’s next.

Elliott Brown – Olympic weightlifter

Elliott Brown hadn’t even encountered the sport of Olympic weightlifting until he got to BU. Now, having joined the university’s weightlifting club and picked up a sports scholarship along the way, he is a national medal winner with his sights set on the next Commonwealth Games. Elliott said: “I was always into sport and played a lot of rugby until the age of 18. I came to BU with a view to becoming a strength and conditioning coach. I had already started weightlifting, as I was keen to learn the basics. I joined the university’s weightlifting club and it all took off from there. The club has an excellent reputation, and by the time I got into my second year I was fortunate to be awarded a sports scholarship on the basis of my weightlifting performance.”

While at BU, Elliott won a silver medal at the British Under-23s Championships and bronze at the English National Championships. Having completed his studies, he is continuing to compete at a national level with a view to qualifying for both the 2022 and 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Elliott said: “If anyone is passionate about pursuing their sport while at university, I would definitely recommend the sports scholarship at BU. The support you get is phenomenal – from strength and conditioning coaching and sports massage to learning how to cope with high-level competitions and handling the media – it prepares you to be successful. The team at BU are really good at helping you to balance the demands of your sport and your studies, ensuring that you can meet deadlines and compete effectively. There is also a real sense of community amongst the sports scholars. While everyone is involved in different sports, you are all sharing a similar experience and supporting one another.”

Issa Batrane – beach volleyball

Having discovered a talent for beach volleyball while at school, BU’s location and reputation made it an obvious choice of university for Issa Batrane. The Team GB beach volleyball athlete is now focused on qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

Issa said: “I first got into volleyball at school. I went along to a trial session and was invited to join my local indoor club. I went on to be selected as the team captain for the UK Schools Games and won that particular tournament undefeated. As I got more into competitions I joined a specialist sports academy based in Bournemouth and began to play more beach volleyball as a way of staying fit over the summer. I loved the feeling of playing on the beach – it was a bit like being a kid again – and I won the Junior National Beach Volleyball Championship with my partner, Sam Allen.

On arriving at BU, Issa benefited from increased access to gym facilities and the advice and support of professional sports staff. He said: “My game developed tremendously. The financial support I received as a sports scholar enabled me to get away to more international competitions and training camps and I began to compete against some of the best players from around the world.”

While at BU, Issa’s volleyball performance put the university in the top four of the British Universities & Colleges Sports (BUCS) League each year. Together with his university partner, he won the BUCS beach championships two years in a row. Issa was also selected, alongside a partner from Northumbria, to form the first GB team entry in the University World Games.

Now that he has completed his studies, Issa is busy competing at an international level and qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He said: “BU gave me a great platform to develop in my sport and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to pursue something I love within such a great, close-knit community of athletes.”