Sporting blues for SAMS students

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A University of the Highlands and Islands student, who needs regular health checks following major heart surgery as a three-year-old, has been recognised as one of the university’s outstanding athletes.

Iain Walsingham, 20, an undergraduate student at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) UHI, has been awarded a Sporting Blues Colour after captaining the university’s sailing team, part of the Wind and Wave Club, to its best ever season.

Pelle P Kip Regatta 2019 Prizegiving
Winning crew – Animal

There was a double celebration for the university’s Wind and Wave Club as club founder and fellow SAMS UHI student Joe Penhaul-Smith was also awarded a Half Blue.

The accolades were presented by the university’s Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA). Introduced in 2017, the Sporting Blues Awards acknowledge the excellence of the university’s students and alumni.

Iain, from Cheltenham, had an operation to repair two holes in his heart at the age of three. He requires continuous monitoring of his health throughout his adult life but has pursues a diverse sporting career. His sporting achievements show the extent of his determination not to let his condition affect his abilities.

Iain said: ‘Despite the operation when I was three and having periodic check-ups afterwards, my condition has a limited impact on my day to day life due to the fact that I maintain a healthy lifestyle and the excellent support I received when I was younger. I consider myself a normal athlete and not handicapped in any way from it, but it is a cool story to tell people.’

Joe, 25, has been a prolific yacht racer since moving to Scotland from Derbyshire to pursue his PhD. Outside of university competition success, he has won many competitions including West Highland Week, Kip Regatta and the overall RC35 series in 2018.

Joe is the founding commodore of the Wind and Wave Club and has played a crucial part in the club’s success at the Scottish Student Sailing (SSS) Leagues and the SSS yachting championships.

The club’s success at events, plus the quality of training offered at the university, has resulted in Iain being elected commodore of the club for the next year as they look to build on their past success. Throughout the year, as captain of the sailing team and a regular for the yachting team, he has helped the club achieve its best results in both disciplines.

The Sporting Blues awards scheme is a joint initiative between the university and HISA, with the Blues being awarded at graduation ceremonies to winners.

This year, a record high number of nominations were received. Awards have been given to students from five partnership colleges across the university: Perth College UHI, Inverness College UHI, Highland Theological College UHI, North Highland College UHI, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI.

Dr Iain Morrison, sean of students, commented: ‘Our talented students never fail to amaze me with their academic, artistic, sporting and musical talents. These awards highlight the extraordinary achievements of the elite sports people at our university.

‘There are some exceptional individuals recognised today for their national and international success across a range of sports, as well as a few who are building significant reputations in their specific fields. It is a considerable honour to be awarded university blues and colours and we are proud to celebrate the achievements of each and every one of them in this way.’

Alan Simpson, president of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association added: ‘It’s great to see Sporting Blues in its third year, with even more athletes being nominated to win these awards. Being able to showcase exceptional sporting achievements, which are thoroughly deserved, is very rewarding. Sports is ever growing, and it’s wonderful to see how many students are taking part in elite sporting events. The principles are extremely excited to present these awards at graduation.’

Both Joe and Iain are set to be presented their awards at the SAMS graduation ceremony in early September.