University of Hull students have shone a light on British Olympic champions of the past in order to inspire current Team GB athletes to achieve success at the Games this summer – as part of a research project with Team GB.
Designed to celebrate and drive forward the ethos of ‘One Team GB’ – a concept encompassing the cultures, ways of working and the collective beliefs of all team members –, the project has uncovered heroes of the past, highlighting the team’s heritage of success as athletes compete at the Games in Tokyo.
This exclusive opportunity for students came as a result of the University’s unique partnership with Team GB. The partnership, which is now in its second year, covers a six-year period and includes the Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Students have been able to harness their creativity and historical research skills developed during their studies to bring little-known but incredible stories of early Olympians to life. New facts and timelines for champions – women, Black and Asian athletes from diverse backgrounds – have been uncovered, revealing their journey as they established themselves in Olympic sport. One Olympian was Cardiff-born Paulo Radmilovic who won three gold medals in water polo (1908–20), another gold in swimming (4x200m freestyle, 1908), and became the first GB athlete to compete in five Olympics in 1928.
The students also researched well-known Olympians such as figure skaters Torvill and Dean, as well as Team GB diver, Tom Daley.
Dr Jenny Macleod, Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History and head of the history department at the University, said: “We all tell stories about who we are based on the past. That’s true of individuals, families, organisations and nations.
“It has been really exciting to find out more about the history of Team GB so that they can enrich the story of who they are as a team, and by extension, who the British are as a nation.
Student Lewis Carter, shares his thoughts on his opportunities with Team GB
“Working on these projects for Team GB has been a fantastic and rewarding opportunity for me. It has allowed me to engage with fascinating, inspiring and positive areas of the history of British athletes that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity, or even awareness, to look into.
“Furthermore it has helped me increase my skills as a historian through challenging me into using new methods and sources that I would never had considered, which in turn helped improve my own work throughout my studies.
“Some of the research I did regarding athletes for Team GB included looking into athletes such as rower St George Ashe, who was perhaps one of the first British athletes we know of to suffer from mental health issues. Another was Evie Pinching who won gold medals in Skiing at the 1936 Winter Olympics but also trained a "British Ski Force" in the British Army, as well as competing in the 1950 World Skiing Championships despite fracturing her spine 2 years earlier. These athletes, and others that have been researched can prove inspirational to the current generation of athletes and fans.
“This has been a fantastic experience for me, and has even given me the opportunity to appear on several panels talking about my experience of the project which has helped build up my confidence and expertise at doing such events.
“It has also broadened my awareness of the work that can be done, and relationships that can be made with other organisations outside of the university, knowledge which I think will be valuable when looking for employment or a career.”
University of Hull x Team GB
- Partnership spans six years and includes the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games
- Opportunities for CV-boosting work experience, volunteering, joint research projects and possible internships with Britain’s best-loved sports brand¹
- Plus, motivational talks from visiting Team GB speakers and health and wellbeing events run by elite athletes
¹ Places will be limited and exact details will be provided when available. Some opportunities are dependant on your subject.