Loughborough University's foundations are deeply rooted in technology and engineering. It evolved from the Loughborough Institute of Technology; and only in 1996 – 30 years after being granted university status – did it drop the name 'Loughborough University of Technology'.
All of this has helped the university gain a formidable reputation in the field of engineering. However, there is another discipline with a reputation that has superseded that of engineering in recent decades – sport.
A passion for sporting excellence, which predates its university status, has led to a number of alumni going on to achieve extraordinary feats in their individual fields. Bob Wilson, Gerald Davies, Lord Sebastian Coe, Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson and Sir Clive Woodward are just a few of the greats who represented Loughborough in their younger years.
That passion, along with long-term investment and a world-class faculty, has also allowed Loughborough to win the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Championships and its various previous incarnations in each of the last 33 years. That is an astonishing achievement, of which our Athletic Union are extremely proud.
The Athletic Union is the body that oversees the university's 54 sports teams. It is, along with the Sports Development Centre, responsible for continuing our exceptional tradition of sporting success. The AU Exec team is headed by student-elected AU President Jennie Cooper, who will be appearing in Label's first printed issue later this month.
Maintaining so many successful clubs is an enormous undertaking, but it is one each year's Athletic Union have been incredibly adept at. Our first teams consistently compete in the highest BUCS leagues; and often reach the latter stages of, if not win, the knock-out competitions.
Individual sports have proven even more fruitful. Incredibly, if Loughborough's only BUCS points came from athletics and swimming, we would still have finished 18th in the overall standings. That's ahead of the likes of Cardiff and Stirling, and only two places below Cambridge.
Javelin thrower Izzy Jeffs and individual pursuit swimmer Roberto Pavani are two of the latest students to break onto the international scene. In addition to current students, names as big as Martyn Rooney and Fran Halsall still compete in domestic competitions for the athletics and swimming clubs respectively.
Although all of that may appear daunting, the AU – particularly in recent years – have invested a considerable amount of time and funding into ensuring each student can have their own sporting journey. Below the AU clubs themselves lie the IMS (inter-hall) and My Lifestyle programs; both of which Jennie will discuss further in her article.
Put simply, we should all feel proud of the unique reputation that we enjoy here. Whether you are an athlete, a volunteer, a casual gym-goer or a spectator (I fully urge you to spend your lecture-free Wednesday afternoons catching a couple of matches around campus), our Athletic Union has ensured that you can allow yourself a hint of smugness when you describe yourself as a Loughborough student.
Tomorrow's article is entitled 'All About the Societies', and will introduce you to the extensive Societies Federation in the Student's Union.
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