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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Marine biology student achieves first class honours and becomes a world champion

Published: 5 July 2013
Hannah Brown competing

Third year marine biology student Hannah Brown has combined her studies with taking part in sport at the highest level. After completing her final year at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, she beat all comers at the world wildwater kayak sprint championships in Slovenia.

Hannah, 23, from Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire, who has just completed a Marine Biology with Oceanography degree getting first-class honours,  dominated the heats and took the win by over half a second - a big margin in the world of wildwater sprints.

Wildwater canoeing is currently a non-Olympic discipline, a cross between slalom and flatwater canoeing, you just have to go as fast as possible (like flat water) from A to B but down white water (like slalom). Hannah’s achievement is all the more impressive in that she has also balanced a successful career in the Olympic flatwater world, and has just been selected to race K2 (a two person kayak) at the senior flatwater sprint world championships later this year in Duisburg, Germany.

Hannah says: “The world championships are the pinnacle of a sporting season and to be able to win on an individual level is unbelievable. “I think this success is a combination of so many pieces coming together within the University and my training life. It shows that with dedication and skill it is possible to combine academic life and sporting excellence. Within the University, it’s come from several aspects, be it from approachable lecturers to awesome gym facilities as well as support from fellow students. Words can’t really describe what it feels, but it’s a feeling that I'll never lose.”

Hannah came through the ranks at Southampton through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) initially and then as a Sports Bursary Scholarship athlete.

She says: “The University has an excellent sports bursary scheme with world-class gym facilities and several individuals working tirelessly to assist your training and studying. During my time at University, there have been some helpful moments with lecturers, field trips and deadlines. It has been a challenge to balance my academic life with sport as I need to train for 20 hours a week but I'm glad I took the degree.  I got the chance to take part in practical work on board the research ships so kept in touch with the water."

Sarah Nightingale, from the University’s Sport and Wellbeing team, adds: “It has been a privilege for the Sport and Wellbeing team to work with Hannah. To be such a high achieving athlete, as well as such a high achieving student, is testament to her hard work and dedication to all she does. She is a fantastic person and great inspiration to younger athletes on our Sport and Wellbeing Bursary Scheme. We really wish Hannah well in her future sporting endeavours.”

Hannah will now become a full-time athlete, based at the UK's National Sports Academy in Bisham Abbey setting her sights on a canoe medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after injury kept her out of Team GB at London 2012.

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