Abertay student travels to South Africa for opportunity of a lifetime
Thanks to the epic fundraising efforts of Abertay University’s Vice-Principal, Professor Steve Olivier, one of the university’s elite athletes has been awarded a scholarship to South Africa for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Sport and Exercise Science student Katie Robertson – who is a Scottish Hockey international and part of Great Britain’s U21 hockey squad – will be heading to Stellenbosch University on 8 February to train and study at the world-renowned Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.
During her two-week stay, Katie – who is currently in her second year at Abertay – will have a packed schedule, training alongside the university hockey team and attending lectures, as well as continuing with her daily strength and conditioning programme provided by Scottish Hockey.
Professor Olivier undertook a major endurance challenge in September 2014 to make this possible, travelling from Dunstaffnage Castle on the west coast of Scotland to Broughty Ferry Castle on the east coast by cycling, kayaking and swimming over 120 miles of roads, rivers and lochs.
A keen sportsman himself, Professor Olivier has previously completed ultra-endurance events in several different sports and is passionate about creating opportunities for students that will broaden their horizons and open their eyes to what the world has to offer.
Wishing Katie the best of luck ahead of her trip, Professor Olivier said:
“Abertay is about creating opportunities, and this is a terrific opportunity for Katie to advance in her sport, and to expand her horizons with new cultural opportunities. Stellenbosch is a magnificent and unique university town, with fantastic facilities. I wish her all the best, and know that the visit will open new doors for her.”
Abertay’s Sports Development Officer Mikey Devlin will be on hand for the duration of the scholarship to ensure everything runs smoothly, as well as to see the university facilities, work with the sports teams there, learn about best-practice and bring back new ideas for how sport can be developed at Abertay.
“The university has an extremely impressive sports development programme providing the best training and opportunities to students of all levels. The clubs are among the best in the world and have definitely seen the benefits of working closely with the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport. Although not directly linked, the Academy and the university work closely together, and elite athletes studying at the university often use the strength and conditioning, nutrition, biomechanics and physio facilities available at the Academy of Sport.
“A number of Stellenbosch University students have gone on to represent their country in sports including athletics, rugby and hockey, and they also have regular visits from international athletes who use the facilities for warm weather training camps.”
Explaining why Katie was selected for this opportunity, he said: “We offered the opportunity to all of our students, but were ideally looking for somebody performing at an elite level. When the opportunity was advertised we had around seven students on our Elite Athlete Development Programme and Katie’s application was the best and most driven. She had also shown the most commitment and dedication with her training and there was a clear positive line of development from Scotland U21 to Scotland full international and Great Britain U21.
“We’re certain Katie will benefit hugely from this scholarship – not only for her future career as a player, but as a sport scientist as well.”
Speaking about how it felt to find out she would be going to South Africa, Katie said:
“It feels unbelievable that I’m going to be going to such a high performance centre. It’s renowned for its elite athletes and its sports, so it’s very exciting. It’ll be hard work, but I can’t wait.”
When the scholarship comes to an end, Katie will remain in Stellenbosch where she will meet with Scottish Hockey for a two-week warm weather training camp.
She has just returned from France where the Scotland team were competing in the European Indoor Championships. They played England on the 24 January, requiring a win to avoid relegation. The team got the result they needed, winning 5-3, with Katie scoring their third goal just before half time.
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