Outstanding new sporting stars welcomed to University

Press release by Eve Jones and Amy McSweeny

A six-time gold medallist at the World Transplant Games and an international cliff diving champion are among the new intake of Sporting Excellence Scholars at Plymouth University.

Swimmer Ellen Russ, who received a kidney transplant in 2012, and daredevil Iris Schmidbauer joined a host of other student sporting stars at the scholarship welcome event last week. 

The Sporting Excellence Scholarships are available to students who compete in their chosen sport at national or international level, and a successful application entitles them to financial help for competition, free sports therapy and gym access. 

More than 40 students new and returning are benefitting from the scheme, with sporting specialisms from sailing to wheelchair rugby.

Psychology student Ellen won six golds and one silver medal for Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in Argentina last year. With a strict training regime and extensive study commitments, she explains why the scheme is so important:

“I really wanted to show how grateful I was to be given a second chance and to pay tribute to the donor and their brave family,” she said. “I’m delighted to be a Sporting Excellence Scholar and the extra support offered by the University will undoubtedly be of benefit in helping me to ensure I am able to achieve my full potential in both my studies and sport.”

2015 International Cliff Diving champion Iris Schmidbauer, who is studying Sports Rehabilitation, Conditioning and Therapy at University partner institution, City College Plymouth, is aiming to compete at the 2020 Olympics.

Last month she competed in the Red Bull World Cliff Diving Series in Italy for her home country, Germany; somersaulting from a height of 22 metres into the sea.

She said: 

“I want to keep training hard and enjoying what I do to show better dives in my next competition. Cliff diving is hotly anticipated to become an Olympic sport by 2020, and I hope that the scholarship will help me to be up on the podium one day.”

As a condition of their scholarship, each student must keep up with their academic work and undertake at least two ambassadorial events each year for Plymouth University or its Students’ Union. 

Among successful alumni are retired Olympic swimmer Antony James, basketball star Auryn Macmillan and Welsh international rugby player, Molly Humphreys. 

David Rose, Director of Sports at Plymouth University, said: 

“We are delighted to have so many talented sportspeople on our Sporting Excellence Scholarships programme, and we look forward to helping them achieve success both academically and in their chosen discipline. By working together with partners in the city, our students have unrivalled access to some of the country’s top sporting facilities, and we hope that Ellen, Iris and all other scholars enjoy taking advantage of such great opportunities.”