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School of Modern Languages & Cultures

News from Modern Languages & Cultures


Dr Naomi Hoogesteger to carry Olympic Flame

(24 April 2012)

Dr Naomi Hoogesteger, who teaches in the Spanish Department, has been selected to carry the Olympic Torch. 

Naomi, along with two other rising sportswomen from Durham University, will carry the torch through County Durham on Sunday 17 June. They will be part of the 8,000 torchbearers who will pass on the Olympic Flame on its 70-day journey across the UK and were nominated by Durham University in partnership with Olympic partner, Samsung. 

Dr Hoogesteger, who combines part-time postgraduate study with a teaching post in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, hit the headlines last year when she broke the world record for the fastest Atlantic rowing crossing as the only female crew member. She completed the crossing in 31 days and 23 hours raising over £40,000 for charities along the way. Naomi has already set herself her next challenge as she plans to canoe down the Amazon river in the summer of 2014 to set another world record. 

Naomi said: "Although I am a firm believer that true inspiration to achieve must come from within, the support that I have received during my time at Durham University, and in particular from my academic department and college, is unparalleled. Along the various sporting paths that I have taken, I have come to realise that having such a rock to rely upon is of utmost importance in order to achieve ambitions and dreams." 

Also doing the honours on behalf of Durham University will be England U21 hockey player, Steph Elliott, who hails from Middlesbrough, and top five British fencer Kira Roberts. 

All athletes, who compete on the national and international stages as well as represent Durham University, are combining their studies and work with their sporting careers. They have been able to do this at Durham which prides itself on academic excellence combined with opportunities in sport, the arts and volunteering. 

 The athletes represent the quality of women's sport at Durham University, which is ranked 1st in the British Universities and Colleges Sport league table, beating competitors such as Loughborough, Leeds Met and Bath universities to the top spot. 

Durham University cemented its global reputation as a centre for sporting excellence in February with the opening of its £6.7m new sporting facility, which boasts one of only three powered indoor rowing tanks in the country and the only world-class standard fencing specific facility in the UK. The facilities in Durham complement the £5.5m sports centre which was opened at the University's Queen's Campus in Stockton in 2010, with badminton, basketball, volleyball and netball courts, a dance studio and rowing room. 

On Saturday 16 June, a free evening event with music and entertainment on Durham University's Racecourse will celebrate the Olympic flame staying overnight in the City. 

Dr Naomi Hoogesteger - world record holder for fastest Atlantic rowing crossing and bronze medallist at world rowing championships 

Naomi took part in a range of sports as a teenager. She competed at county level in athletics, cross-country and hockey. In 2001, she took up rowing and quickly became one of the top U23 rowers in the country. Naomi was Women's Captain of Durham University Boat Club in 2002-3, and then spent a year on a rowing scholarship in Los Angeles. Following her return to the UK, she competed for the Great Britain Senior Rowing squad. In 2005, she won a bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships (Stroke and steerswoman of the Lightweight Women's Quadruple Sculls) and in 2008 showed her versatility by finishing fourth in the World Quadrathlon Championships (swimming, kayaking, cycling and running). Naomi went on to break the world record for the fastest Atlantic rowing crossing as the only female crew member in 2011 (31 days and 23 hours), raising over £40,000 for charities along the way.