UoE at the Commonwealth Games

The University of Edinburgh was certainly well represented at our home Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer. We caught up with some of our students and alumni who volunteered, performed and competed at the Games.

Our Volunteer

Douglas L Jardine, from Peebles, Scottish Borders is an Archer who studies an MA in Business Management and will graduate in 2017.

Have you volunteered at many events before?Douglas Jardine

As an active member of the University’s Archery Club, I volunteer my time to help with routing novice coaching and hosting student league matches and National championships. I also work closely with Scottish Student Sport as a brand ambassador where I go to various events to represent SSS and help them run as well as they can, and as the Archery Chair, I’m responsible for the SSS League, Championships and Head2Head events, as well as its continued development. In the past I have also been part of EUSU’s publicity committee (before it re-launched as the media house) and finally, I have recently applied to sit on the performance and membership committees of Scottish Archery who are undergoing a great resurgence after a period of uncertainty.

Why did you want to volunteer at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games?

I compete as an archer and as my sport sadly wasn’t included in Glasgow 2014 I decided I had to be involved somehow, so I decided to volunteer.

Where were you placed as a volunteer and what were your day-to-day roles and responsibilities?

I worked two days at Ibrox for the Rugby 7s and five days at Hampden for the athletics. I was part of the hospitality team looking after the private and corporate hospitality clients who visited the games. Our day-to-day role was complete service from when they arrived bringing them in through security, making sure they had the best time at the games and then making sure everyone made the last train home.

How has being involved in sport at the University of Edinburgh helped?

Without Edinburgh University Archery Club, everyone at EUSU and the Performance Sport Programme I would never have found such a passion for sport that has driven me to compete for Scotland, and meant I simply had to be involved in the best Commonwealth Games ever.

What were the highlights of the Commonwealth Games?

It’s hard to pick highlights from such a wonderful week at the games, as an ex-rugby player (and Rangers fan) seeing Ibrox full for the Rugby 7s was a great start to my games. Then moving to Hampden for the athletics meant I was in the heart of Glasgow 2014. While working I saw David Rudisha, Usain Bolt and Sally Pearson compete which confirmed to me that these games are important, competitive and relevant. All the while working with a group of people I am now privileged to call my friends. Perhaps most of all was the sense that the volunteers at the games got real recognition for their efforts, I felt like I gave a lot to Glasgow 2014 and was valued every moment I was involved.

What are your plans with volunteering in the future?

I will continue my work with EUAC and SSS hopefully for the duration of my student life and beyond, and I’m always excited by new challenges. I would like to work with EUSU again and possibly with BUCS in the future.  I also owe a huge amount to the Scouting Movement so I hope to return to that at some point in my life.

Douglas Jardine Team

 

Our Performer

Jo Richards, originally from the outskirts of London, is a dancer, teacher, choreographer and personal trainer, and graduated from The University of Edinburgh with a BSc (Hons) Applied Sports Science in 2004.

Why did you want to perform at the Commonwealth Games?Jo Richards Games

I’d been selected by Dance Base as their ambassador for the Delhi 2010 Handover Ceremony. It was such a phenomenal experience I jumped at the chance to audition for the ceremonies for Glasgow 2024.

Have you performed for events on this scale before?

Delhi was the biggest scale event I’d ever performed in, both in terms of cast and audience. There were 350 cast members flown to Delhi and on the night there was a capacity of over 80,000 in the audience as well as a global audience watching on TV. For Glasgow there were over 40,000 in the stadium and in my particular section of the performance (I was in Kingdom of the Scots, the section with John Barrowman and Karen Dunbar, I’m proud to say I was a teacake!) there were only 100 performers.

I’ve had amazing opportunities to perform in the best theatres in Edinburgh and London and have performed in multiple Edinburgh Festivals, stadium shows, TV work and was part of Team Scotland for a competition in the USA. But performing in Scotland for the Commonwealth Opening was something really special.

How long did you have to rehearse?

Altogether we had around 16 rehearsals of varying lengths in the run up to the opening. All were done outside come rain or shine – we rehearsed in every weather condition possible!

Is it possible to determine your highlights?

There are so many! My main highlight was my team. So many enthusiastic, devoted volunteers all coming together to create something so memorable and in our own way represent what Scotland is all about. As a Choreographer it was also an amazing opportunity to view how mass choreography and stadium ceremonies are created. How they devise the concept, create the choreography and relay their vision to such a large cast.

What do you do now?

Lots of things! I’m a blend of art and science. On the one side I’m a Dancer, Teacher and Choreographer. On the other I’ve been a Personal Trainer for nearly 10 years. I also work on various freelance projects in dance, education and fitness.

Do you think your performing experiences at University helped you in your path?

Absolutely! When I was studying I ran the Modern Dance Society for 3 years and we took part in the annual performance in March which is still going strong today. This gave me the opportunity to hone my teaching and choreographic skills which have proved invaluable. I feel the annual performance is a wonderful opportunity to showcase all of the talent we have at Edinburgh, some of my fellow alumni are now also Dance professionals. It’s also fantastic to see the provision of the MSc in Dance Science, I wish this was available to me at the time of my studies.

Do you plan to perform on this scale in the future?

I certainly hope so!

If you’re interested in Personal Training with Jo or finding out about any of her other services visit her website here

 

Our Competitor

Sean Doherty from Glasgow plays Table Tennis for Scotland, alongside studying Applied Sports Science at the University of Edinburgh.

How long have you been playing Table Tennis and how long have you been playing for Scotland?Sean Doherty

I’ve been playing in total for 10 and a half years and have been representing Scotland in my age category for 9 years. I’ve been in the Senior Squad for 4 years and in the first team for 3 years.

How long has the Commonwealth Games been on your mind?

For about 6-7 years. I was listening to the announcement on the radio when it was made. After it had been made we received more funding and I decided to give up all other sports to focus on table tennis. By the time I was 17 (in 2010) I was the best junior in Scotland but I knew I’d have to step up to make the senior team so I moved to France to compete and train full time with professional club Levallois for 2 years. In 2012 I moved back to Scotland and have been training with the National Squad while studying in Edinburgh. For the last 6 years I have been on a training schedule where I train 4-6 days a week and when I was full time that was mostly twice a day.

How has the University of Edinburgh supported you in your sport?

I made the decision to come to Edinburgh because my national training was based in Edinburgh but also because I knew of the University’s rich history in performance sport. When I heard what was included in the Individual Performance Programme it was really an offer I couldn’t refuse. They’ve helped me loads over the last couple of years, with financial support and also when exams and competing have clashed. Without FASIC I wouldn’t have made it to the Games in one piece and the Performance Gym is a world class facility. I feel like I’ve been well looked after since I’ve arrived in Edinburgh and it’s a great set-up for any aspiring athlete who is looking to combine their studies with their sporting commitments.

When did you find out you had been selected for Glasgow 2014?

I got a phone call mid-May to say I had been nominated and then I got a phone call confirming my selection and what events I had been selected for at the start of June.

Can you summarise the experience of a home Commonwealth Games?

I had been focusing on this one competition since I was a young teenager and it was my dream to compete in Glasgow 2014 so the first time we walked out at Scotstoun to the Scottish crowd was incredible. We weren’t sure what the atmosphere would be like at the table tennis since it’s a minority sport in Scotland but the crowd were amazing and the cheer we got when we walked in was just the best feeling. I loved the village and I felt pretty used to it very quickly. Because of our good preparation in the build up to the Games, we were eased in to those sorts of living conditions. After our prep camp in Stirling it actually felt sort of normal, but it was still a great place to be.

Is it possible to identify any highlights?

The team match against Canada was definitely the highlight of competing. It was only the first day and our second match but we got a really bad draw which meant we knew we had to beat Canada to have a realistic chance of getting to the quarter finals which was our goal. Canada were 5th seeds and we were the 8th. The match went on until about 10.45pm but we eventually won. It was balanced on a knife edge the full time. Me and Craig Howieson (a former UoE athlete) won the doubles 11-9 in the fifth set (3-2) which was our best ever doubles win, and for me (in terms of ranking) is my second best win ever. I think the team result against Canada is Scotland’s best ever team result as well, it definitely is in the Commonwealth Games anyway.

The opening and closing ceremonies were also amazing. I was only able to march straight in and out at the opening ceremony because we were competing early the next day. I’m a lifelong Celtic fan so to get to walk out the 40,000 people at Celtic Park was a dream but getting to walk out there for my country was even more special. I had to fight back the tears a little at the start because it was completely overwhelming and there was a sudden realisation of what I’d achieved and how long I had waited for that moment.

You’re still a student, what are the plans next?

I still have two years left on my course so in terms of University I intend to carry on as usual and get my degree. The build up to the Games has been so long so now that they’re over I’m enjoying a little holiday (even though I’m currently studying for a re-sit!). However the new season starts in a couple of weeks and I have league matches mid-September and then the European Championships are in just over a month so it will be back to business as usual. Commonwealth Champs are in India again next year so we’ll be building to that over the course of the season but my long-term goal is Gold Coast 2018. After the once in a lifetime experience of Glasgow 2014 I’d love to experience a Games away from home as well and what better place to do that than the Gold Coast of Australia!

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