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Durham University News

News

Olympic triple jumper returns for Honorary Degree

(14 January 2009)

Jonathan Edwards and Captain of Athletics, Olly Briggs

Former British triple jumper, Jonathan Edwards, is one of three to be awarded an honorary degree from Durham University.

The Olympic champion, who has held the triple jump world record since 1995, graduated from Durham in Physics in 1987. He returns to receive the highest accolade a University can give in honour of his outstanding athletic career.

As well as achieving positions such as BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Edwards holds gold medals from the 2000 Summer Olympics Games, the 2001 World Championships and the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Such achievements have earned him status as one of Britain’s all-time international top sportsmen.

Edwards is the inspiration behind the success of many young jumpers, including Durham University’s Captain of Athletics, Olly Briggs, who met with Jonathan Edwards.

Olly, who has been jumping since he was ten years old, was inspired to begin triple jumping and long jumping after Edwards’ breakthrough performance at the 1995 World Championships.

A fourth year modern languages student at College of St Hild and Bede, Olly has recently won the title of Long Jump Gold Medalist in the Northern Universities Indoor Athletics Championships.

Now aged 22, he hopes to win a medal at the British Universities Championships later this year.

Olly, who trains in his home town of Berkshire with Julian Golley, one of Jonathan Edwards' former Great Britain teammates and rivals, said: “I remember watching Jonathan Edwards breaking the triple jump world record on TV as a kid in 1995. The fact that he broke the record several times in the same competition made his performance truly unique.

“A couple of years later when I had the chance to try the triple jump for the first time at school I was right at the front of the queue! His athletic achievements aside, I think his personality makes him stand out as an ambassador for the sport and the region.”

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the professional head of the British Army, and author David Constantine, will also receive honorary degrees tomorrow celebrating their significant achievements.

Edwards and Dannatt receive the honorary title of Doctor of Civil Law while Constantine gains the honorary title of Doctor of Letters.

The accolades, conferred by Chancellor Bill Bryson, were awarded as part of student graduation ceremonies taking place on 15 and 16 January in Durham Cathedral.

Prof Chris Higgins, Vice Chancellor of Durham University, said: “The remarkable achievements of these three extremely talented individuals demonstrate their great dedication in pursuing after excellence in their respective fields.

“At Durham we seek to reward such excellence and it is therefore a pleasure and privilege to honour their successes with the honorary degree.”

Jonathan Edwards said: “I had three wonderful years at Durham as an undergraduate, and to be able to return more than two decades on to receive an honorary degree is an immense privilege.”

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