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Loughborough’s finest celebrated at Sporting Club annual dinner

(L-R) Professor Robert Allison, Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University, with Hall of Fame member Phil Larder.

(L-R) Professor Robert Allison, Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University, with Hall of Fame member Phil Larder.

Over 150 people have attended the Loughborough Sporting Club annual dinner to celebrate past and present successes, and to honour the latest additions to the Sporting Hall of Fame.

The evening, compered by Hall of Fame member David Moorcroft and Christine Fisher President of the Alumni Association, saw nine new names inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Former Loughborough Lightning player/coach and England international captain Olivia Murphy became the first representative from netball to be inducted.

Speaking about her time at Loughborough Olivia Murphy said:

“The people here understand how important sport is in people’s lives. I was an international netballer when I first arrived, but I had no idea what it was going to be like to make that transition from junior to senior.

“So the beauty of this place is that you bump into those people who have similar experiences all of the time, whether it’s a staff member supporting you or another student having the same experiences.  That was the biggest thing for me the support being here gave to me.”

Other athletes to be inducted were Welsh international rugby players from the 1960s, Alun Pask and John Mantle, and Duncan White – the first Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) athlete to win a an Olympic medal – silver in the 400 metres hurdles at the London 1948 Games.

For the second year running the value of coaching was recognised by the Hall of Fame.

Hurdles coach Malcolm Arnold – who has worked with the likes of Colin Jackson and Dai Greene, and Phil Larder – the defence coach in England’s victorious 2003 Rugby World Cup squad, were both in attendance to accept their awards.

Looking back at his time at Loughborough Malcolm Arnold said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Loughborough and I’ve been back many times.  So it’s great to be associated with a night like tonight. Initially it gave me knowledge. The lecturers were good at passing on their knowledge, it was a very inspiring place and it lit up my life.

“I’m still working and out six days a week, working with the athletes and looking forward to the Commonwealth Games and European Championships.”

Speaking about his induction to the Hall of Fame Phil Larder added:

“It took me by surprise and something that I never considered.  To be associated with guys (fellow Hall of Fame members Clive Woodward and Andy Robinson) who are icons, and the fact people put me in the same category as them is very humbling.”

Also inducted on the night was the Director of Football at Crewe Alexandra, Dario Gradi, who said:

“Somebody once described me a teacher-coach, and I think that I probably am.  I spend more time teaching individuals than I do working out strategies or on team plans. Loughborough was a teacher training college, so being there would have helped me.”

The final two inductees were athletics coach Geoff Gowan – who worked with a golden era of athletes in the 1960’s including Robbie Brightwell, John Cooper, John Sherwood and John Whetton – who accepted the award on behalf of Geoff’s family.

Finally Bert Kinnear, an Olympian himself at the 1948 London Games who went on to become Loughborough first swimming coach and a key figure at the Amateur Swimming Association. Bert’s son Ian accepted his accolade.

As well as celebrating success the event also provided an opportunity for former team mates and friends to re-unite with each other.  The Friends of Football group were well represented with the UAU Championship winning team from 1970-71 in attendance.

There was also a large contingent from the Friends of Tennis group, who the following morning relived past glories by arranging a session in the Sir Dan Maskell Tennis Centre.

Following the Hall of Fame, the evening included an after-dinner speech from Ian Drake, the Chief Executive Officer of British Cycling, who has overseen the success of Team GB at the London 2012 Games and the increased participation of the sport in the UK.

Ian, himself a graduate of the University, described Loughborough University ‘the only place that I wanted to go to’ and ‘the sporting centre of the world’.

Ian also talked passionately about how University had played a key role in his cycling journey, and how he had joined Loughborough Students’ Cycling Club at the start of his second year.

In bringing the evening to a close Professor Robert Allison, Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University said:

“What this evening proves to me, more than anything else, is that sport is part of our DNA at Loughborough.  It is what we are known for and it is what makes this University special. It is one of the things that make me proud to be Vice Chancellor, and I hope that it makes all of you proud too.”

The Loughborough Sporting Club is a joint initiative between the University’s Development & Alumni Relations Office and the Sports Development Centre.

The Club aims to provide a vibrant, active social-networking club for members keeping them informed and engaged with sport at Loughborough.

Click here to view photos from the evening.

For further information about the Loughborough Sporting Club and Hall of Fame visit the website.