In a change to tradition and a fitting tribute to 2020, the SSS Festive Gathering was delivered virtually this year with over 70 members across the tribe tuning in to hear from a panel of world-class athletes and leaders in sport.
Whilst the virtual gathering was a first of its kind, the longstanding tradition of participants wearing festive jumpers remained true – with some fantastic outfits on show throughout the afternoon. None more so than panelist Robyn Love (pictured below) in what is undoubtedly a candidate for the most festive photo of the year.
After an energising welcome from SSS Chair Pete Burgon, a brief review of the year gone by and finances approved – our attendees were met by two equally inspiring and thought-provoking discussions from our special guests.
First up, the Road to Tokyo panel, where SSS Head of Competitions Chris Purdie, was joined by three athletes whose experiences through student sport had helped shape their career path and their journey to next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Neah Evans (Cycling), Megan Gaffney (Rugby) and Robyn Love (Wheelchair Basketball) discussed how their positive student sport experiences helped them reach where they are today. From balancing the workload of their studies with the pressure of performing in their sport and also trying to keep up a social life in the process, the panelists spoke honestly and fondly of their student days.
All three touched upon the huge sacrifices required to make it at the top level and acknowledged the vital support they received from their institutions and staff during their time at University. This support has been vital to them and many other young athletes looking to achieve their potential while also studying and preparing for their future.
The panel discussed the importance of resilience and “bounce-back ability” that the challenges of Coronavirus and lockdown caused before previewing what promises to be a jam-packed and exciting year of sport in 2021.
All three have very real and promising hopes of competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games and everyone at SSS wishes Megan, Robyn and Neah every success for 2021 and beyond.
Following this inspirational panel, the next section was packed full of ambition, innovation and collaboration at every corner: An Audience with Jan Paterson.
Jan is currently Managing Director Sport for Neom, delivering a bold new vision of future living. Neom is being designed as a global city for global citizens and Jan’s role is to engrain sport and physical activity in the lives of residents. In the future city, citizens will never be more than 8 minutes from a sports facility and physical activity will be an integral part of the curriculum.
Jan herself is a pioneer and her experiences in leadership roles were a great learning opportunity for our audience. She spoke of the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people, and the significance of bottom-up team building. We also heard some great stories of her times at the World University Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
To round off the day and in true 2020 style, the SSS Tribe were treated to a Zoom Quiz of the Year courtesy of Pete Burgon. This gave everyone a chance to show off their best Christmas jumpers, share some “funny” Christmas jokes and engage in some much needed festive cheer.
We would like to wish everyone a restful festive break and we look forward to seeing you all in 2021.
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