Olympic roles beckon for students

Published on 22 March 12

University rower Graeme Thomas has emerged as a late contender for the London 2012 Olympics after an impressive performance at the GB rowing trials alongside established medal hopes from the North West.

Graeme, 23, finished fifth in the men’s single scull final and now faces further testing before the crews for the first World Cup event of the 2012 season are announced in April, with seven places up for grabs in the men’s sculling squad.

The third-year Biomedical Sciences student from Preston is part of GB Rowing’s START talent identification and development programme at Agecroft Rowing Club and was invited to take part in the final senior trials after shining in earlier tests.

Graeme was joined at the trials by another University of Manchester student, 21-year-old Zak Lee-Green, who finished eighth overall in the 1900m time trial.

Meanwhile student Blaire Hannan has been named as one of 8,000 inspirational people to carry the Olympic Flame during the Torch Relay.

Blaire will be the last person to carry the Olympic Flame on 22 May, for the one-mile journey from Benjamin Perry’s pontoon at Redcliffe to the Millennium Square in her hometown of Bristol.

Once there, she will carry the flame onto the stage where thousands of people are expected to gather to celebrate its arrival.  

Blaire, a first-year Speech and Language Therapy student, a TASS athlete and a member of the Paralympic transitional squad for Sailing, will be transporting the Olympic Flame on the 'Aiming High' wheelchair accessible power boat along Bristol Floating Harbour.  

Blaire said: “It is a massive privilege to be part of the greatest sporting event in the world and represent Paralympic Sailing, but to get the rare opportunity to carry the flame by boat in the famous maritime city of Bristol, just makes it extra special.”

Blaire was nominated as a Torch Bearer by Bristol City Council for achievements in competitive sailing after suffering from a rare neurological and muscular condition called Dystonia, which has left her wheel chair bound.

It is also in recognition of her work with Bristol Sailability, a voluntary organisation which enables young disabled people to experience water based activities including Sailing.

Although she missed out on a place in the GB Paralympic Team for 2012, Blaire now has her sights well and truly set on the 2016 Games.

Congratulations to Graeme, Zak and Blaire on their achievements

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