University strikes gold twice at London 2012!

The University of Reading struck gold twice at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta.

University of Reading PhD student Anna Watkins and her partner Katherine Grainger, put in a tremendous performance to win the Women’s Double Sculls, beating the Australian pair by over a length. The result means Anna, who is studying for a PhD in maths, now has two Olympic medals after her bronze in Beijing.

On the final day of the Regatta Reading graduate Alex Gregory raced in the Men’s Four and despite pressure from the experienced Australian crew, the oarsome foursome lead their final from the start to become Olympic Champions.

Their stunning victories followed Zoology graduate Ric Egington and current Henley Business School MBA Alex Partridge’s fine performance earlier in the week. The duo formed part of the Men’s Eight crew who won a bronze medal in one of the rowing races of the Games. The Eight bravely went all out for the gold medal and were leading three-quarters of the way through the race but just faded in the last 250 metres.

Anna, Alex Gregory, Ric and Alex Partridge are four of the ten University of Reading alumni/students that made the GB rowing squad, the highest number from any UK university. All the rowers say they have benefitted from the University of Reading’s strong support and world-class facilities.

Gold medal winner Anna Watkins said: “Reading had a really good reputation and I knew it was the right choice for me to as it has the right combination of academic excellence and passion for rowing. I’ve been able to take time out of my PhD to focus on the Olympics and the University has been positive and helpful throughout my time there.”

Alex Gregory, who graduated in 2006 with a BSc in geography added: “The University was unbelievably good in supporting me. I joined the senior GB rowing team while at University so I was away a lot at training camps, sometimes weeks at a time. I had great support in my training from both the University and fellow RUBC mates.”

The University of Reading Boat Club (RUBC) is steeped in Olympic success. Four years ago in Beijing, Reading students and alumni added three medals to the team’s impressive tally and in the 2004 Athens Games Reading rowers brought home one gold and two silver medals.

Iain Akhurst, Director of Sports and Recreation at the University of Reading, said: “Many congratulations to all our rowers who represented the GB team. The University is proud of the support it offers student athletes and of the facilities we have that helps them achieve their goals. But of course it takes commitment as well as talent to reach Olympic standard and we are delighted their hard work has paid off.

“It’s also great to see Jonty Clarke, another Reading graduate, in the GB Men’s hockey squad. The team have begun well and we wish Jonty and the rest of the squad the best of luck for the latter stages of the competition.”

Past Olympic legends James Cracknell OBE (BSc Geography, 1993), Garry Herbert MBE (BA History, 1993), and honorary graduate Sir Steven Redgrave CBE DL (DLitt, 2001), who also brought the Olympic flame to the opening ceremony and passed it on to the future talents in sport, have been providing commentary for the UK’s Olympic coverage.

Another University of Reading graduate who will be watching all the medal ceremonies with pride will be Professor David Watkins. David is a leading British artist and sculptor in metal who graduated with a BA in Fine Art in 1963 and designed the 2012 Olympic medals.

“I was of course absolutely delighted, and surprised too, because I don’t normally do this kind of work,” said Professor Watkins when he was chosen as the official designer of the medals. “We decided quickly on the main focus. My ideas developed a little and I did a lot of work tweaking dimensions through computer modelling. Never once was a sketch produced – the medal design was developed using computer software. This way I could see what I was doing from every dimension, and ensure that I was not exceeding the manufacturer stipulations.

“At the University of Reading a lot of what I learnt was to do with seeing things from the perspective of other people, studying different disciplines, whether that was philosophy, languages or maths. I made some dear friends at Reading and of course I have the University to thank for another huge influence, my wife, who I met at Reading!”

For more information about rowing at Reading call Director of Rowing Will Rand on 07989 972 594 or visit the RUBC website

Members of the University of Reading in the Great Britain Olympic Squad

Jonty Clarke (BSC, Economics, 2002)

2012 GB Men’s Hockey Squad

Past achievements: Team GB in Beijing Olympics, gold at the European Hockey Championships, 2009

Anna Watkins (Current student, studying for a PhD in Maths)

2012 Olympic crew: Women’s Double Scull

Past achievements: Olympic bronze medallist 2008, 2011 and 2010 World Champion; 2009 World silver medallist – women’s double scull.

Bill Lucas (BA Politics and International Relations 2009)

2012 Olympic crew: Men’s Double Scull (with Sam Townsend)

Past achievements: 2010 World finalist – men’s quadruple scull; World U23 champion 2008 – men’s double scull.

Charles Cousins (BSc Psychology 2010)

2012 Olympic crew: Men’s Quadruple Scull

Past achievements: 2010 World finalist – men’s quadruple scull; World U23 Champion 2008 – men’s double scull.

Natasha Page (BA Art 2007)

2012 Olympic crew: Women’s Eight

Past achievements: World Bronze medalist 2011; Olympic finalist 2008 (She was selected for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in the women’s eight and finished 5th) World finalist 2010 – women’s eight.

Ric Egington (BSc Zoology 2001)

2012 Olympics: Men’s Eight

Past achievements: World Champion, 2011 – men’s four; Olympic silver medallist 2008 – men’s eight; 2009 World Champion – men’s four.

Sam Townsend (BSc Rural Environmental Sciences 2010)

2012 Olympic crew: Men’s Double Scull

Past achievements: 2010 World finalist – men’s quadruple scull.

Debbie Flood (BSc Physiology and Biochemistry 2005)

Past achievements: Gold 2010 World Championships, Olympic Silver medallist 2004, 2008,

2012 Olympic crew: Women’s Quadruple Scull

Alex Gregory (BSc Geography 2006)

2012 Olympic crew: Men’s Fours

Past achievements: Gold medallist 2009, 2011 World Championship

Alex Partridge (Current student on Henley Business School MBA programme)

2012 Olympic crew: Men’s Eight

Past achievements: Olympic silver medallist 2008 – men’s eight; three times World Champion 2009, 2006 and 2005 – men’s four; World Silver Medallist 2011 – men’s eight

Adam Freeman-Pask (current student studying for a PhD in Biological Sciences)

2012 Olympic crew: lightweight reserve

Past achievements: gold in three 2012 World Cup races, 6th in the 2010 World Rowing Championships.


Revamp for Black Horse House

Venue Reading is delighted to announce that work will begin on the refurbishment of Black Horse House on Monday 6 August and is due to finish in time for the new term at the beginning of October. During the revamp, alternative arrangements have been made to accommodate guests in the new en suite rooms in halls.

The Black Horse House rooms (34 en suite double rooms and two twins) are going to be totally refitted and will have a bright and modern new look, these will be available to staff, students, visitors to campus and external clients at very competitive rates.

The meeting rooms will also be brought up to date with new furniture and modern AV facilities being installed to create a fantastic environment for meetings or training events.

Black Horse House Manager, Tim Widdows said; “The architect’s impression of how the new rooms will look show quite an improvement. We are really looking forward to hosting events and providing guests with a state of the art venue and excellent accommodation.”

If you would like to know more about the refurbishment, room rates or availability, for example, please contact Tim Widdows on 0118 378 8043 and he will be happy to answer your questions.