If you are a fan of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing then I’m sure you will be as proud as we are of alumna and University Sports Scholar Lauren Steadman who, with her professional partner AJ Pritchard made the semi-finals of the show.
Not only did Lauren smash Strictly but she won gold at the ITU World Championships – just a week before she was due to appear on the show. She then had to get straight to rehearsals.
You may have caught a glimpse of the University logo on a couple of occasions as Lauren and AJ were here training in the Spinnaker Sports Centre studio for some of the time. We were lucky enough to drop in on them training for the semi-final and have a quick chat with them about their Strictly journey and what they love about the city of Portsmouth.
Lauren completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degree at the University and has been a Sports Scholar here for the past five years. During this time she took part in two Paralympic Games, winning a silver medal in Rio 2016, and became a double World Champion and six time European Champion. The University still supports Lauren today as part of her quest to win Gold at Tokyo 2020.
The elite para-triathlete was born missing her lower right arm, but this didn’t stop her developing a passion for swimming from a young age and competing in her first Paralympic games as a swimmer at age 15. Lauren has since specialised in Paratriathlon.
Paul Tilley, Head of Sport and Recreation, enjoyed a surreal experience of seeing Strictly Come Dancing live in the studio, within touching distance of the TV show’s judges and celebrities. He attended the show as a guest in week 8 of the dancing competition, which was watched by around 9 million people on BBC One. Paul had the opportunity of supporting her and representing the University during the show and he even got to mingle with the dancers and celebrities afterwards. Paul said:
“Lauren was amazing, really down to earth and she gets on well with everyone involved on the show. It was great to be able to support her as an alumna of the University and see what she has gone on to achieve. She is the perfect ambassador for the University.”
Great work Lauren - that’s a 2018 worth celebrating!