There is an incredible impact that the students of Sussex University have on the wider world during their time here and after they leave.
We often look over past students and forget to realise their sparkling input on our society. It can be inspiring and uplifting to view all the people that have gone on to make their mark on the world and create a clear pathway for yourself and every other student to achieve.
Sporting success is an area one may skip over when looking at alumni as we often don’t associate running quickly or cycling fast with the fruits that university has to offer. It is easier to look at the impressive intellectual accolades that former students have achieved. Nevertheless, students at Sussex have certainly achieved greatly within sport.
I was extremely surprised to see that Virginia Wade, a notable Tennis player, once attended Sussex University in the early 1960s. Wade went on to win three grand slams in her glittering career. She managed to win the US open only five months after turning professional, defeating superstar Billie Jean King in the final. She also managed to attain No.2 in singles rankings and No.1 in the world for doubles. Wade received an MBE in 1973.
The success of Viriginia Wade has acted as an inspiration for women in sport for over fifty years. Women would certainly not have been encouraged to participate in Tennis and other sports, so for her to become so decorated and respected would create such a platform for women to play and enjoy sport. She has been able to overcome adversity to rise to the top of an extremely competitive and draining sport that attracts the top athletes from around the world. It fills me with even more pride that she once walked along the paths of our famous Sussex campus that myself and all my peers currently do.
Another athlete that caught my attention that once attended Sussex University more recently was Cyclist David Stone, a decorated paralympian. He was a road race and time trial cyclist, and he managed to win gold at both paralympic and world championship level. The stigma that disabled athletes face makes David’s achievements even more impressive. David had a career that lasted over ten years where he competed at the top of his sport. To compete for so long and at such a high level is a testament to David’s mindset and character. There are many restraints on athletes that aren’t able bodied causing demotivation for many to even start playing sport at all. His career in sport should act as motivation for everybody dealing with any physical impairments.
Sussex alumni that have achieved in sport are rightly celebrated within the Sussex community. Those who are able to excel and inspire others to take on challenges act as role models within the spaces that we operate in. Viewing students who are just like us transform into elite level athletes creates an environment where anything is possible. The wide range of athletes and challenges that past students have faced should encourage all to participate and find great passion and love within sport.