Slavko Radman is studying for a Masters in Defence, Development and Diplomacy at Durham University and is currently the number one-ranked British Universities individual tennis player. During the 21 years the Croatian has been playing he has achieved an official world-ranking and played four years at the top college level (NCAA) in the United States. This week he will be representing Durham in the BUCS individual and doubles championships in Sheffield. Here is what he had to say:
"I will be competing amongst some of the very best singles players, but I have high expectations for the upcoming BUCS tennis individual tournament. I will also team up with Durham student, Jonny Binding, to play for the doubles crown."
"It has been a pleasure to coach Jonny, as well as playing alongside him. We have been working hard for the whole year to have a shot at winning this prestigious event and victory in this tournament would rank very high among my past career achievements."
Rory Johnson, pictured right with Durham City Harriers' coaches, Brian Mackay and Mike Toogood, is a second year history student in St Cuthbert’s Society. After a first year of training and competing with Durham University Athletics and Cross Country Club, he felt compelled to take on the responsibility of captaining its men’s cross-country section. While it is a student run club, it shares a valuable partnership with Durham City Harriers and Athletics Club, which, in return for use of the University running track, provides students with high quality coaching and training programs.
Rory Johnson: “At the top end we have two GB athletes and County Champions, but other students that want to get involved in a Team Durham sport can come along and find someone of similar ability and fitness. Recently female participation has really improved: 22 out of 47 competing in the BUCS Cross Country race this Saturday are girls. Also, we are very lucky to have such high quality volunteer coaches from the Harriers.”
Bryan Mackay (former British O55 Indoor 1500m champion and Harriers’ Level 3 Middle Distance Coach): “Of course I enjoy it! It has been a very successful partnership over the last decade. It is great to see the student and Harriers athletes, including the real youngsters, training hard and enjoying themselves.”
Kate Langham is a third year Geography student from St Chad’s College and she is fly half and captain for Durham University Women’s Rugby 1st XV. The side was only promoted to the BUCS Premier League North last season, but Kate has led what is now a “much more committed” side to second in the table. In her interview, following the team's monumental victory over Loughborough Women’s 1st XV, Kate was clearly excited about the prospects of women’s rugby at Durham University:
“One of my main roles as captain is to praise my players; if you know you’ll get praise when you play well you will want to do it more - people like their successes to be recognized.”
“The club is also aiming to develop the 2nd XV and the college teams - any girl from a sporty background can pick it up! We have a 'Development Day' next month and a few Newcastle Falcons players are coming to spread the word of women’s rugby and give beginners a good taste of what it is like to play. Hopefully next year Durham will have an even stronger side because of our efforts to recruit new players.”
Josh Bayford and Harrison Collins
Josh Bayford (3rd Year, Van Mildert College) and Harrison Collins (2nd Year, Hatfield College) were both part of the Durham University 1st XV that won the British Universities Rugby Championship last season. Josh plays prop and is now captain of the side, while Harrison is a back row forward and pack leader in Josh’s current absence through injury. Josh hopes to return to fitness and help Harrison and the team to continue their unbeaten run of 30 matches. Here is what they had to say:
Josh: People were saying how much pressure there would be to captain a side that had such a successful past season, but in the back of my mind I already knew the quality of the team, so I wasn’t remotely nervous. It is certainly a new mental challenge for us this year with our previous success, but we are still striving for that perfect performance. One thing that is certain: I have never enjoyed rugby as much as at Durham.
Harrison: Our coach, Alex Keay, has an attitude that suits the side: he is very positive, but grounded at the same time. Certainly there is always something that we can improve on and I feel that it is this ethos and the hard graft that we commit to each training session, as a whole club, which is central to the strength of the current side.
Oliver Clarke is a third year Van Mildert College student doing a Sports degree. The twenty year old is also the proud captain of Durham University Hockey 1st XI, who were runners up in last years British Universities’ Championship and are currently top of the British Universities Northern League. Here is what he had to say:
“I really wanted to be captain this year and I am grateful to the rest of team for the support they have given me. I might not have the most dominant voice in the side, but I try to play as a captain: I play as well as I can and in this way I express how I want the team to perform.”
“The University Hockey Club benefits from a high quality training system here. In particular I am enjoying working with head coach Gavin Featherstone. He is making me think about the game in ways I have never really thought about it before…and this has helped the way I guide the team.”
“Our main aim is to win the BUCS Championship this year, but it will take pure grit; if we continue to combine our work ethic and skill, then we should have a very good chance.”
Laura Stockdale and Gemma Nortcliffe
Laura Stockdale (28 years old) and Gemma Nortcliffe (23 years old) are post-graduate students playing centre midfield and striker for Durham University Women’s Football 1st XI respectively. They both grew up in County Durham and then went to the United States as football scholars. Now they have returned to their home city to combine their passion for football with part time Masters’ courses at the University Business School. Here is what they had to say:
(Laura) Coming back to study at Durham University was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. The Durham University Women’s Football Club is like a family; everyone fits together really well. Our team is just as good as the teams I played with in America; this season we want to win the BUCS league and go as far as possible in the FA Cup.
(Gemma) It is a real privilege to be back studying at Durham, as well as playing with the University Football team. The style of football in England is very different to the game in the US: here it tends to be a lot more physical, which is a good experience for me. Also, thanks to the Team Durham community programme I am now teaching football at my old college (East Durham College) several times a week, which is really rewarding.
Loulou Rowlands is a second year Natural Sciences student in St Hild and St Bede College. She is an accomplished athlete, having competed as a middle distance runner in the U20s National Championship (2010). She also plays for Durham University Women’s Lacrosse 1st team and has represented the U19 and Senior England Lacrosse teams. Here is what she had to say:
“This year I have really focussed on my training with Team Durham ahead of the national squad because I really want to help the team to an unbeaten season. There are only four players from last year’s British Universities Championship winning side in the team now and the rest are all new; but they are all excellent players - several have represented England Under 19s and some have played in America.
Our new coach, Rebecca Greenslade, has been important in getting the new side to blend; morale is good and everyone works so hard at training that you know you are never going to have an easy session!”
Odiba Samuel Attah
Odiba is a second year Durham University student in George Stephenson College studying Applied Psychology with Foundation. The 26-year-old chose to study at Durham after his promising basketball career with British Basketball League (BBL) 1 side, Newcastle Eagles, was stopped by a severe knee injury. However, he has now made an impressive recovery and is playing basketball for the Men’s University 1st team. Here is what he had to say:
“After my injury, I realized that my life was built around basketball. In my time away from the game, I developed a part of me that was not dependent on sport, for which I am thankful. Psychology was a subject that really interested me and the foundation course allowed me to study something I was passionate about at one of the best universities in the country."
“However, I also remembered how much fun basketball was and, thanks to the great Team Durham fitness coaches at Maiden Castle, I am playing BBL again.”
Reka Zsilinszka is a 21-year-old Masters Student in University College studying Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She graduated from Duke University, North Carolina in 2011, with whom she won the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tennis Championship (2009) and for her role she was named the tournament’s most valuable player. She is now playing as Durham University’s number 1 ranked player, whilst coaching in the club and the community. Here is what she had to say:
“I absolutely love it in Durham; my friends at Duke said it was a beautiful city and they were not wrong!
“It is very different from the states, but in a good way: in the USA, tennis was like a business and it was kind of like a job for me, but now I am enjoying my masters course (I really like history!) and I am actually enjoying my tennis with Durham a lot more.”
“I also get to do weekly coaching sessions with kids under the age of ten, which I absolutely love, and I coach the University Women’s 4th team. I appreciate it when people share my passion and want to get better. As a coach, that is very rewarding, and I love seeing real progress in my students.”
Steph Elliott is a second year in Collingwood College and is studying Sport. Steph captained the England's U21 hockey team during the summer and is now captain of the Durham 1st team. She has this to say:
“Since I’ve been with Team Durham I have grown in confidence through playing hockey. My game has improved and I now control my game a lot better, which is vital to my captaincy. Playing as part of Durham University Hockey Club is how I managed to get into the England set up, which has been simply amazing. My coach, Gavin Featherstone, ex England hockey captain and Durham senior coach, has helped me enormously and I have a lot to thank him for!
"Some teams we play against play a lot of hockey and don’t seem to enjoy themselves; but I’ve made friends for life here and playing sport with friends is so much more rewarding.”
Oliver Gill is a first year in St Cuthbert’s College studying Economics, who plays centre back for the University 1st XI football team. In the 2010-11 season he was named Manchester United ‘Reserve Player of the Season’ and he was in the 1st team squad for ‘Premier League’ and ‘Champions League’ fixtures. The promising 21-year-old centre back made the remarkable choice of leaving a potential career in top-flight football to get a degree at Durham.
Here is what he had to say:
“It was a great experience travelling around the world playing football with some amazing players; but, although I had a very nice lifestyle with Manchester United, you do have to make a lot of sacrifices, and it came to the point where I had to decide, ‘Do I want to be a professional football player, or do I want to go to university and find a career along that path’?”
“You have got to do what is right for you and I feel I made the right choice in coming to Durham: I like the fact that you are more independent, you meet lots of different people, you have a good time, and hopefully learn a lot as well! It has got a reputation for being a top university and the balance it provides between studying and sport is what attracted me.”
Josh on his arrangement with Newcastle Falcons and his time training with them so far:
“During term time I’m purely committed to Durham and then during the holidays I go to train with the (Newcastle) Falcons…We’ve had a good summer there; it’s just good to get involved in the professional environment… It’s a couple of steps up from University rugby and it’s really tough and physical, so it helps me a lot with my rugby at Durham.”
Josh on his time training with Team Durham so far:
“In my first year at Durham, I worked on my strength and conditioning a lot more… the staff at Team Durham are doing a great job and helped me out a lot. At Durham, being around really good players, really skilful players, has done a lot of good…This season, if we keep our feet on the ground, we have got a good chance of winning the BUCS Championship.”