Sport / University

Two Teesside Elite athletes compete on global stage

TEESSIDE University has two of its Elite Athletes representing their country at international competitions this month.

ENGLAND LION: Louis Cunningham (in blue) is representing England (Photo: Evening Gazette)

Louis Cunningham and Aimee Willmott are part of the University’s Elite Athlete Scheme which helps support students who are at international level or with exceptional international potential.

Louis, 21, won his first senior international bout on Thursday having been selected by England to face Ireland in County Mayo.

He said: “I’m chuffed to bits. I want to thank all my family and friends who have wished me luck, congratulated and supported me.”

“The fight went really well, I won on a comfortable points decision after I simply out-boxed my opponent.”

The athletes on the scheme gain access to state of the art equipment and expertise, as well as support in areas such as physiological and bio-mechanical assessment.

Louis said: “The Elite Athlete Scheme has helped a lot, in particular with the transition from a junior international to raising the bar and becoming a top senior.”

“The biggest benefits have been the sports science support and the opportunity to work alongside other top athletes.

“The conditioning has helped me to become stronger, faster, and move a lot better. It also helps me manage and balance my studies and work around the high amount of training I do during the week, which can sometimes be three training sessions a day.”

Louis earned his England call-up after reaching the Amateur Boxing Association’s Elite Championship Finals last season and impressing Three Lions coach Mick Gannon during selection camps at the GB boxing headquarters in Sheffield.

“It was brilliant putting on the senior England vest. I have represented my country as an under-19 but this was much better,” he said.

The Wellington ABC boxer has been enjoying a momentous week following his graduation from Teesside University on Tuesday and is set to represent England again over the coming days.

Louis studied BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise (Applied Sport Science) and believes the course helped him to fulfill his potential.

He said: “My family are over the moon about me graduating as I am the first in my family to do so. I am so proud of what I have achieved.

“My degree focused on interventions into sports science with psychology a major factor and it helped me to gain a further understanding of how I could improve my own mind, in the ring and out.”

Louis, ranked number two in England for his weight category, is already looking ahead to the Commonwealth Games and Rio 2016 having been inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games.

 “My dream is to become number one in England and to be a part of Team GB,” he said.

“After watching the Olympic Games in London it made me proud to be British and I want to make my country proud.”

Meanwhile, Aimee Willmott, 19, is making her first post-Olympic appearance at this month’s European Short Course Swimming Championships in France.

TEAM GB: Aimee Willmott is representing Great Britain in France (Photo: Evening Gazette)

Willmott, who made the semi-finals of the 400m individual medley at this summer’s London Olympics, is part of an 18-strong Great Britain squad competing in Chartres between November 22 and 25.

She said: “I’m really enjoying racing Short Course this early on in the season and I’m looking forward to my main event which is the 400 individual medley.

“I’m hoping to make the final and maybe sneak a medal but I know it’s going to be tough.”

Aimee, who is part of the Middlesbrough Amateur Swimming Club, has already set two personal bests at the prestigious European competition.

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