Sport Scholars celebrated at awards ceremony with guest speaker, retired Sussex cricketer Lewis Hatchett

An awards evening, held in style on Tuesday 20 November, welcomed the newest enclave of successful Sport Scholars.

The night was hosted by Provost Saul Becker, Deputy Head of Sport Terry Cooper and inspirational speaker Lewis Hatchett.

Of almost 200 students who had applied to the Sport Scholarship Scheme, only 29 of the most talented students were successful.  The Scholarship is supported by donations from alumni and friends of the University, which are generously made to the Sussex Fund.

The Sussex Fund, in partnership with the True Athlete Project offers students a host of great benefits, including:

Sport Scholars included Calum Upton, a student studying Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Cell Biology, who is ranked 2nd in the Scottish rankings and 14th in the British U23 rankings for 3,000m steeple chase. 

Calum hopes to perform well at BUCS and other national competitions this year. 

Also there on the night was windsurfer Cassandra Sarper, who studies Physics with Astrophysics in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. 

This year Cassandra achieved a 4th-place finish at the Swiss Championships and 15th overall at the World Championships. Her ambition is to become a professional windsurfer and to join the European and World Championships.  

Before the awards were handed out, previous English cricketer and True Athlete Project mentor Lewis Hatchett spoke about his incredible career spanning not just professional cricket but Paralympic-level swimming and, more recently, yoga.  

Lewis was born with Poland Syndrome, a condition which has a rate of one in 100,000 births, and is characterised by an underdeveloped chest muscle. In Lewis’ case he is missing his right pectoral muscle and two ribs, providing his lungs with only skin to protect them from the impact of, say, a cricket ball. 

Deputy Head of Sport Terry Cooper spoke about having the previous cricketer speaking at the event and what the TAP scheme meant to Sussexsport:

“It was great to have Lewis Hatchett talk to this year’s group; he clearly demonstrates what it takes to be very best version of yourself, as well as highlighting the importance of making the best of opportunities presented to us, but also the value of creating those opportunities ourselves.”

From a young age Lewis had known he wanted to be a cricketer and, despite being advised not to play contact sports, he went on to do just that.  

Not the most naturally talented athlete on the team, Lewis worked harder than anyone else, pestered elite-level coaches to play and asked for brutal, honest feedback, which he used to transform his game.  

The courage it took for Lewis to perform at this level in cricket is truly inspirational, and courage is a value the University of Sussex holds dear.

During his six years bowling for Sussex, he took 102 wickets in 53 first-team matches, batting with a bullet-proof Kavlar vest to protect himself from fast bowls.  

Unfortunately, an old back injury eventually resurfaced, ultimately the result of his Poland Syndrome, and ended his cricketing career at only 26 years of age.  

This was a significant moment for someone who had always dreamed of being a cricketer and professional athlete. 

At a cross-roads, he turned to Paralympic swimming, but after training in the pool for over a year he discovered that his condition was not eligible for competition at the Paralympics.  

He then did what all 20 something-year-olds with a career gap do: he travelled and took up yoga.  

Now an inspirational speaker and yoga instructor, Lewis’ plans are as ambitious as ever. His newest venture aims to sell yoga as a rehabilitation tool for athletes, removing some of the fluffier elements of the sport in favour of the physical benefits.  

He teaches classes in Hove, which you can book.

Sheer force of will, dedication and courage are the main themes in Lewis’ story. He credits not natural talent, but hard work and dogged persistence. This is the message he hopes to impart on the next generation through the True Athlete Project (TAP).

Sport Scholars being supported by TAP include Bethan Harvey, a cricketer and Psychology student. She is currently being mentored by Anna Bentley, an Olympic fencer, three-time British National Champion, and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist. 

Bethan talked about how much of an impact it had made on her time at Sussex: “The True Athlete Project has allowed me to draw focus to, and strengthen, the mental aspects of my performance. It has changed the way I approach not only my cricket, but my day-to-day life.”

Speaking about the TAP project, Deputy Head of Sport Terry Cooper said: “I am delighted to continue our partnership this year with TAP.

"We are always trying to ensure that our scholars take on the values of the project, in that sport isn’t just about winning and losing, it is also about how us as individuals can impact participation, player and club development and contribute to the overall impact of sport on campus.”

As mentioned in speeches during the night, the Sussex Fund is made possible by alumni donations, coordinated by the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO). Sussexsport and the Sport Scholars themselves are incredibly grateful for the continued support of the alumni. 

Regular Giving and Legacies Manager Ben Loxton thanked the donors: “A Sussex education has always been about more than just academic achievement. That’s why the Sussex Fund is proud to support the Sports Scholarships scheme.

"These awards ensure that scholars not only benefit from playing sport, but also from high-quality coaching and financial support.

"It has been great to see many of our past scholars go on to compete at national and international level, and I am equally looking forward to seeing the progress of this year’s awardees.

We join Ben and everyone involved in wishing the 2018/19 Sport Scholars all the best in the year to come.


You can view more photos from the night in the slide show below.


Below are the 29 athletes who will be supported as part of the Sports Scholarship scheme 2018/19.

Anna Wortley (Synchronised Ice Skating)

Business and Management Studies in the University of Sussex Business School

Anna has previously represented GB through her Isle of Wight Team at Europe’s biggest tournaments and the team were reserves for the world championships.

Axel Kalling-Smith (Rugby)

Accounting and Finance in the University of Sussex Business School

Last year’s Player of the Year, in 2018 Axel made the Sweden National Team for 15s and is now in line to play for the 7s team in the Grand Prix Sevens Tournament

Bethan Harvey (Cricket)

Psychology in the School of Psychology

Bethan has been part of our partnership with the True Athlete Project and is currently part of their mentorship programme. Having not played much last season, due to injury, Bethan is keen to get back out there taking wickets and long term she looks to make the England set-up.

Calum Upton (Athletics)

Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Cell Biology in the School of Life Sciences

Calum is a previous recipient of a Sports Scholarship and is ranked 2nd in the Scottish rankings and 14th in the British U23 rankings for 3,000m steeplechase. Calum is hoping to perform well at cross country and 3,000m steeplechase at BUCS and national competitions.

Cassandra Sarper (Windsurfing)

Physics with Astrophysics in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

This year Cassandra achieved a 4th-place finish at the Swiss Championships and a 15th-place finish at the World Championships. The long-term goal is to become a professional windsurfer and this year join the European and World Championships. 

Cicely Cole (Pole Vault)

American studies with English in the School of History, Art History and Philosophy

In the last two years, Cicely has achieved the title of both Indoor and Outdoor County Champion, as well as London Senior and U20 Games Champion. Cicely is hoping to have a strong year after last year, with the goal of achieving a 20-30cm personal best.

Ed Davis (Rowing)

Accounting and Finance in the University of Sussex Business School

Part of the crew that came 4th in the Lightweight 4’s at BUCS Head, Ed has experience of competing over a number of years. The last year Ed won and came 2nd at two major events in the rowing calendar. Ed is hoping to make the U23 lightweight sculling team for GB.

Ella Lucas (Horse Riding)

BSC Psychology in the School of Psychology

Ella has experience of riding and competing at national-level championships, achieving 1st place at a qualifying event at Hickstead and high finishes in national and regional events. Ella is hoping to progress to U21 and U25 Championships and compete internationally.

Eleanor Craig (Sailing)

Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Informatics

This season Ellie achieved 4th place at the D-Zero National Championships, making her the female National Champion, as well as Inland Champion. Ellie also achieved a 2nd-place finish at the NSSA National Championship. 

Ella Sezen (Rugby)

History and Politics in the School of History, Art History and Philosophy

Ella was part of the successful Worthing College team that won the National 7s title. Ella has represented her college internationally, playing against the Dutch and Belgian National U18s team. Ella has also achieved semi-final positions at Rosslyn Park Tournament, the world's largest school rugby tournament. Ella is hoping to play for the county this year and in the near future looks to transition from U18s rugby into premiership rugby.

Emily Smith (Double Mini Trampoline)

Zoology in the School of Life Sciences

Emily has competed in five British championships, achieving a bronze and silver medal in the process. Emily has also competed for England and GB at international competitions at junior level. Long term, Emily is hoping to get back in to the England team and then hopefully represent GB at the World Championships. 

Jack Griffin (Rugby)

International Relations with French in the School of Global Studies

Jack has represented Luxemburg since the U16 level and is hoping to break into the senior side for 15s and 7s. Short term he hopes to be part of another successful season for Men’s Rugby. 

Jack Oliver (Weightlifting)

Secondary Classics PGCE in the School of Education and Social Work

An athlete with vast experience of competition at the highest level, having competed at the London Olympics and placing 10th, Jack has also competed at two Commonwealth Games and is six times a British Senior Champion. The next two years for Jack will be about qualifying for Tokyo 2020 and improving on that 10th place.

James Langley (Karate)

Physics with Astrophysics in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

James has the ambition of reaching the England squad and has already held his own against that level of competition. James has made an encouraging start to the year and we are hopeful we can support him in reaching that ambition. 

James Murphy (Hockey)

Social Sciences in the School of Education and Social Work

James has played county, regional and England Hockey Tier one and has been part of the ‘Discover your gold’ talent ID programme. James is now part of Brighton and Hove Hockey, who play in the National League Conference East.

Jasmin Sayed (Sailing)

Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Informatics

Jasmin is currently sailing in Fireball class 420, but is hoping to secure funding for a different category of boat, which will allow her to compete in Paralympic events. This will be a great opportunity for her to compete for a place at the Tokyo Paralympic games.

Jed Sexton (Rugby)

Economics and Finance in the University of Sussex Business School

Jed has represented Kent at three different age groups and is hoping to represent his county this year.

Mark Demitry (Basketball)

Business and Management Studies in the University of Sussex Business School

Mark has represented Sudan at junior level and is the current captain of the U18 team. This year Mark is hoping to improve his game here at Sussex and help the University team do well. Long term Mark is looking to play in the British Basketball League.

Matt Francis (Powerchair Football)

LLB in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology

Matt was an England representative at the 2017 World Cup in Florida, finishing 3rd. This experience has given Matt even more determination to stay in the England set-up and he is looking forward the European championships in May 2019. Domestically, Matt has moved from Brighton and Hove Albion to join West Bromwich Albion to hopefully achieve greater success. There is also the possibility of powerchair football achieving Paralympic status, with the Tokyo 2020 games a target.

Max Thornton (Triathlon)

Medicine in the Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Max is our second scholar supported on the True Athlete Project and he has benefited from that contact with his mentor. In 2016, Max was selected to compete for GB, but had to pull out to injury. Last year Max suffered with illness, but is hoping to build his fitness this year and get back to racing, initially in smaller races and then moving to larger-scale events.

Nathaniel Wiesendanger Shaw (Powerlifting)

PhD in Theoretical Physics in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Nate achieved a 2nd-place finish at the English Nationals in May this year, after achieving a 10th place at the World Championships in Belarus in June 2017 and winning the Commonwealth title in September 2017. Nate’s long-term aspiration is to represent GB at the Europeans and World level, under a new weight category

Poppy Joshi (Powerlifting)

Physics in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Poppy qualified for this year’s Nationals by achieving a 1st place in the South East Regionals. At the recent Nationals Poppy became a BDFPA World Champion in her weight category and also broke the BDFPA deadlift world record. 

Robbie Coupland (Athletics)

Economics in the University of Sussex Business School

Robbie has finished in the top three of County Championships in the last two years at 3,000m and has previously been in the UK top 10 at 3,000m. Robbie’s long-term goal is to represent England.

Rosie Upton (Athletics)

Cognitive Neuroscience in the School of Life Sciences

Rosie is a Scottish national semi-finalist in 800m and achieved 3rd place in the U23 championships. A previous recipient of sports performance support at Brunel, Rosie is hoping to represent Scotland as a senior.

Ross Kerr (Motorcycling)

Automotive Engineering in the School of Engineering and Informatics

Ross and his team have been recently been selected to race for GB, with Ross winning an individual bronze at the event. This year Ross is hoping to contest the British Championship and gain selection for GB after recovering from a broken collarbone.

Sunniva Sunde (Horse Riding)

Business and Management in the University of Sussex Business School

Sunniva has represented Norway and has competed all over Europe. Her most recent achievements are a 3rd-place finish at The Royal International Horses Show at Hickstead and a 2nd place in the Grand Prix at the Royal Windsor Horseshow. Sunniva is hoping to be selected for Norway at the European Championships for Young Riders. Her long-term aspiration is to own her own yard and compete at the Olympics.

Toby Price (Hockey)

Biomedical Science in the School of Life Sciences

Toby has previously represented England at junior level and England schools. He has won the Indoor National title. Toby currently plays in the National League with Brighton and Hove Hockey Club.

Veronika Marova (Basketball)

Media and Communications in the School of Media, Film & Music

Veronika has played to a high level in the Czech Republic and is currently playing for Brighton Basketball in division two of the National League.

William Lorimer Turner (Sailing)

Foundation year in Business and Economics in the University of Sussex Business School

William is a third-year Sports Scholar with aspirations of making the Team GB sailing team. Long term he is hoping to compete for the INEOS Team GB in the America’s Cup.


Back to news list

Posted on behalf of: Sussexsport
Last updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2018