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Emily’s riding high
Chances are that anyone calling Olympic hopeful and equestrian Emily Llewellyn on her mobile phone will find that she's on a horse.
But the 21-year-old, from Heathfield, will be taking time out from training to graduate today (Friday 23rd July, 10am) with a 2:1 in Business and Management Studies.
Emily, a professional event rider (horse jumping, dressage and cross country) had to balance the demands of study with a rigorous training schedule.
The University of Sussex awarded Emily a three-year sports bursary to help her cover costs and supported her throughout her course. Emily says: "It wasn't just money - I got a lot of support from the staff at Sussex who were conscious of what I'm trying to achieve and helped me to organise work around my training."
Emily adds: "I would come to campus for classes and study, then head home to Heathfield to train with the horses - there was little time for anything else!"
Event riding is a demanding sport that takes many years of training to reach Olympic standard, but Emily is already a full-time professional rider, and was selected for the World Class programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games with good chances to make team GB thanks to her outstanding results recently and throughout her young career.
Emily has also won the Sussex Sports Personality of the Year for the past two years, along with many other awards.
She is currently training with nine horses, in the hope of developing that special relationship that could lead to an Olympic medal.
Emily says: "It was really hard work, combining study and training, which culminated in the Badminton horse trials [Emily came a credible 15th and 24th in the prestigious competition] just before my final exams."
In a couple of months she's off to her next competition in the Czech Republic, but today she'll be focusing on her academic achievement.
Her tutor Piera Morlacchi says: "It was a pleasure to work with Emily, which included supervising her dissertation - on entrepreneurship, sport and horses. I think that combining full-time professional elite sport and studying with good results here at Sussex is outstanding achievement."
In the future, Emily may use her degree to help her set up an equestrian business, but for now her sights are set firmly on the 2012 Olympics.