"From the Tyne to Tokyo": Olympic success for Newcastle alumni

Peter Bath hears from some of the Newcastle University alumni who competed in this summer's Tokyo Olympics

Peter Bath
30th September 2021
Team GB Men's 8 rowing team. Image: @BritishRowing twitter
Newcastle University was well represented in a spectacular summer of sport for Team GB, with four graduates competing and two taking home bronze medals.

The Boat Club have particular cause to celebrate as teammates James Rudkin and Tom Ford won bronze in the Men's Eight Rowing, while fellow former Newcastle student - and Tom's younger sister - Emily Ford competed in the Women's Eight Rowing.

As well as the rowers, former politics and economics student Harry Glover narrowly missed out on a medal in the rugby sevens as Team GB lost to Argentina in the bronze medal match.

James Rudkin described the experience to the Courier: "Winning an Olympic medal was the culmination of years of hard work and commitment. There was a whole mix of emotions - happiness, relief, disappointment and a lot of pain!"

"Winning an Olympic medal was the culmination of years of hard work and commitment."

On his connection to the university the 27 year old added, "It felt especially poignant to be representing Newcastle at the Olympics. Tom, Emily and I all attended Newcastle at similar times, and to bring that shared knowledge and experience from the Tyne to Tokyo was incredibly special."

Harry Glover, Rugby sevens Olympian and Newcastle alumnus
Image: harryglover1 via Instagram

Despite Team GB not making a podium place in the Women's Eight Rowing, Emily Ford was pleased to make her Olympic debut. She told the Courier, "Competing at the Games was so special and like nothing else I have done before. It was made extra special to do it alongside my older brother."

Due to the pandemic, the Newcastle quartet faced a tournament like no other. Postponed from 2020, and with mostly empty stadiums and tight restrictions on athletes, they were forced to perform in difficult conditions. Emily Ford credited her time at the university and the Boat Club with her ability to deal with these: "Newcastle taught me a lot, and made me more resilient which helped me to overcome the Games being delayed by a year."

The four will hope for further success over the coming years and at the next Olympic Games in Paris in just three years time.

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