VIDEO: Winning Students announced for 2017/1815 December 2017
Scholars for the 2017/18 Winning Students programme have been announced with 155 high performance student athletes receiving scholarships this academic year.
Funded by the Scottish Funding Council and managed by the University of Stirling, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, Winning Students has been active since 2008 and supports talented student athletes through scholarships, valued up to £6000 per year, and the promotion of academic flexibility amongst network institutions.
2017/18 sees the return of double Olympic-medallist and World Champion swimmer, Duncan Scott (University of Stirling), Paralympic champion, Karen Darke (University of the West of Scotland), double European Champion athlete, Laura Muir (University of Glasgow), and World Championship medal-winning rower, Gavin Horsburgh (University of Edinburgh), who are all continuing their studies within the programme.
Other notable scholars for this year’s scholarships include World C1 canoeing team champion, Eilidh Gibson (University of Edinburgh) as well as curling pair Cammy Smith (Scotland's Rural College – SRUC) and Kyle Waddell (University of Stirling) who will be representing GB at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games as part of Team Smith.
Meanwhile, Arbroath tennis star, Jonny O’Mara, will be part of the Winning Students programme for the first time as he took the unusual decision to combine a full time tennis career whilst studying for a degree at the University of Stirling.
The 22-year-old turned professional two years ago, reaching a world high of 480 in singles. But since switching to doubles he reached the second round of the Wimbledon Championships this summer and his doubles ranking currently stands at an impressive 150.
“I love the team spirit you get in doubles, any time playing for GB, which you don’t normally get from tennis in singles,” said O’Mara, who partners Jersey man Scott Clayton.
“We’re now looking to make the break through to the top 100 and hopefully Davis Cup and the Olympics in the next few years.”
Playing professional tennis whilst studying makes O’Mara something of a rarity but, at the University of Stirling and with the support of Winning Students, he believes he has found the idea environment where both can flourish.
“I’ve always wanted to do something other than tennis,” he explains. “I realise I won’t be a tennis player forever so when I’m done tennis and I move into whatever I do afterwards it will be great to have something else on my CV.
“And I’m managing to combine the two. When I’m at tournaments I have a lot of time to kill, so I’ll take my laptop and read up on whatever I need to and it’s also a nice way to think about something else and get myself away from the tennis.
“Tennis is such a tough sport that if you have to get a part time job then you’re not going to make it to where you want to be.
“Winning Students allows me to train like a professional through the funding. Plus for the studies the academic flexibility makes my life a lot easier.”
A full list of Winning Students for 2017/18 can be found on our athlete profile page.