UCLan students get ‘hands on’ at international sporting event

17 July 2019

Health Sciences and Journalism students described as ‘heroes’ at Gibraltar-based tournament

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has blazed a trail at an international sports event and earned plaudits from around the world.

A total of 35 staff and students from the School of Health Sciences and Medicine and School of Journalism, Media and Performance spent 10 days in Gibraltar at the recent 2019 NatWest International Island Games.

UCLan was chosen to provide specialist medical care at the Games which was held on the British Overseas Territory between July 6-12. 

The sports therapy and sports medicine cohorts provided pitch side care and ran a daily polyclinic, the first time in the history of the Games that such a facility was available to athletes.

Three sports journalism students were also at the Games, working in tandem with the official Gibraltarian media teams to provide online and video content.

The student medics treated around 500 athletes with injuries ranging from muscle strains through to serious knee injuries.

Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed, with Linda Alvarez, chairman of the Gibraltar 2019 Games Organising Committee, and Reagan Lima, chief executive of the Gibraltar Sport and Leisure Authority, describing the army of volunteers as ‘heroes’.

While they were needed at many events, they were severely put to the test at the end of the cycling time trial, which finished at the top of the iconic ‘Rock’ as many cyclists crossed the line exhausted after a punishing 4km climb in the searing heat.

"It was fantastic to see the students thoroughly enjoying the experience and their time on the Rock."

In an email, Mr Lima said: “I witnessed your team’s performance first hand at this particular event and to say that I was both impressed and proud is an understatement.

Andy Cunningham, Principal Lecturer at the School of Health Sciences, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students and staff and they rose to the challenges.

“They were able to provide a high level of clinical skill and made many friends from the competing islands and the people of Gibraltar.  Students were up early and finished late as events were completed but they were always punctual and in good spirits the next day. I received numerous thanks from officials of competing islands for their help and professionalism.”

It is hoped this could be the start of a link between UCLan and the Island Games. The Guernsey team officials, who host the next event in 2021, have shown keen interest in the role played by the University’s students in Gibraltar.

Two lecturers, Greg Littler and Rob Hamilton, were also given the honour of handing out medals to competitors in pistol shooting and ten pin bowling.

Karen May, Principal Lecturer in Sports Medicine, was interviewed by Gibraltar’s TV station, GBC, following the cycling time trial while the three sports journalism students went behind the scenes at the daily sports bulletin at the GBC studios, as well as being interviewed for a community feature.

"This was a fantastic opportunity for our students and staff and they rose to the challenges."

Their action and interview footage of the Isle of Man athletes was used by BBC North West Tonight with UCLan gaining a mention on their nightly bulletin.

Davina Barbara, Media Liaison Manager at the Games, said: “It was fantastic to see the students thoroughly enjoying the experience and their time on the Rock.

“I think the Island Games afforded them a fabulous hands-on experience, and for us their reporting was great as we were able to cover different events at the same time.

“They should be very proud as they were not intimidated in any way, and really grabbed every opportunity that came their way.”

Read the UCLan students’ stories on UCLanlive here.

A media round-up of coverage from the Island Games, which includes clips with three UCLan students, can be viewed here.