Helping students combine academic and sporting excellence

Helping students combine academic and sporting excellence

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    Louise Shanahan (Trinity 2019), Athletics (800/1,500 m), studying Physics (PhD). Photo: @photographybyjonty

To support the next generation of Cambridge students embarking upon a dual career, the University of Cambridge Athlete Performance Programme (UCAPP) is helping to expand the roster of world-class athletes who shaped their sporting career while studying at Cambridge.

Everyone I’ve been involved with within UCAPP has been phenomenally helpful and supportive. I believe that this will be critical in providing a springboard for future success.

Oliver Fox (Robinson 2015)

The University attracts individuals who excel in both the academic and sporting arenas. Alongside its position as a world-leading educational institution, Cambridge boasts a proud sporting tradition. Our students and alumni have won 194 Olympic medals to date across an array of sports.

Juggling the academic demands of Cambridge with the requirements of high-performance sport is no mean feat, but it is a choice that an increasing number of Cambridge students take and at which they succeed. The University is constantly looking for opportunities to broaden the experience of students during their time at Cambridge, and the top choice for many is a sport.

UCAPP was established thanks to the generosity and support of alumnus Mark Hanson (Girton 1985), who was a Modern Pentathlete while at the University. The programme supports individual students who are nationally ranked or who represent their country on the international stage in their chosen sport. It offers sessions in strength and conditioning (S&C), lifestyle support, physiotherapy, psychology, and nutrition: a comprehensive programme designed to look after students and ensure that they can give their best performance on the playing field, track, or other sporting areas. The benefits that the programme provides have already proven popular and will undoubtedly contribute more athletes to an already impressive list and diversify and extend the range of sports for which Cambridge is known.

Among the current UCAPP-supported students, the variety of sports being undertaken is as impressive as the array of academic subjects. For example, Fiona Bunn (Queens’ 2017), an orienteering athlete studying biochemistry, who won a silver medal in the middle-distance race and gold in the relay at the Junior World Championships in 2019, noted the benefits of the programme:

“UCAPP has helped me a great deal to access services which are super useful but that I wouldn’t be able to pay for myself, or I would have needed to opt for a cheaper service that wouldn’t have been as effective.”

Fiona found the one-on-one S&C particularly invaluable to her training:

“It has allowed me to make good performance gains and having physio access and the UCAPP Lead as a personal point of contact about all things training related has been great.”

Oliver Fox (Robinson 2015), a medical student and bronze medallist in the British Cross Country Championship 2019, believes that a support network is critical:

“Everyone I’ve been involved with within UCAPP has been phenomenally helpful and supportive. I believe that this will be critical in providing a springboard for future success.”

The vision for sport 

Sport at Cambridge is undergoing a renaissance — beyond victories in the Boat Race and Varsity Rugby, increasing participation in sport and physical activity is a priority for the University. Our mission is to support students, staff and the wider community in pursuit of their health and wellbeing, and talented student-athletes in their competitive and high-performance sporting ambitions. No student should be deterred from participating in sporting activities for financial or other reasons.  

Support the University of Cambridge Athlete Performance Programme (UCAPP)

You can support the UCAPP initiative by making a one-off or recurring gift online. To discuss other philanthropic opportunities, please contact:

Derek Wilson

Senior Associate Director — Sports, Clubs and Societies

+44 (0)1223 330015 or mobile: +44 (0)7710 376604

Make a gift now

Make a gift now to University of Cambridge Athlete Performance Programme by credit or debit card, or set up a direct debit:

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Or, find out about other ways to give.

This opportunity is part of

2017 winning women's Cancer Research UK Boat Race crew
With a growing focus on student mental health nationally and within the collegiate University, sport and physical activity can play a key role in ensuring the wellbeing of our student community.

Giving opportunities

Philanthropic giving is at the heart of the success of the Collegiate University, enabling us to make discoveries that change the world and to ensure that our students receive an unrivalled education.

Each sports club at Cambridge has a unique set of objectives and needs. To become fully sustainable in the long term, it is essential that clubs develop communities of philanthropic support. Donations as little as £10 per month can help pay for a club’s equipment, facilities, travel and coaching expenses. Each club, in turn, will provide bespoke communications, updates and engagement opportunities for their supporters. 
The Cambridge University Boat Club has made huge strides forward over the last decade – moving the Women’s Boat Race to Tideway, followed by the Lightweight Men and Women; developing our squads and coaching team, and building the new joint boathouse in Ely.