The London team travel to Tyne and Wear looking to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish.
They take a team made up of students from nine colleges to this year’s Championships and have some strong medal hopes.
Here’s all you need to know about the 2016 London team:
Last year’s result: 8th place
Colleges representing the region in 2016: Leyton Sixth Form College, NewVic, West Thames College, Havering Sixth Form College, Hackney Community College, Richmond-upon-Thames College, Barnet and Southgate College, Kingston College, Newham College of Further Education.
Star athlete: Havering Sixth Form College’s Rosemary Allen looks set to be among the favourites for a badminton gold medal when the competition gets underway in Tyne and Wear. Rosie qualified for the women’s singles event at a canter, winning all five of her matches with ease. Rosemary dropped just 19 points throughout the London regional tournament and didn’t lose a game.
One to watch: Barnet and Southgate’s women’s volleyball team could prove tough nuts to crack in Tyne and Wear, with an impressive team spirit built through unique circumstances.
The team are likely to be one of, if not the most multicultural side at the Championships, with six different nationalities in the squad.
Five of the seven players were ‘English for Speakers of Other Languages’ (ESOL) students, with girls from Italy, Romania, Greece, Columbia, Sweden and the Dominican Republic among their ranks. Yet their differences haven’t restricted their progress – in fact, the students have thrived both on and off the court.
Volleyball has gone from strength to strength in the college, after the idea of setting up a team was put forwards by one of the ESOL students and women’s team have progressed significantly in their three years of existence, with success in Tyne and Wear now firmly on the agenda.
“We will give as much as we can to win the Championships,” said captain Aida Cannea Korjani. “We feel very proud of it, but at the same time it’s a big responsibility.”
National Championships veterans: Kingston College’s tennis players have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years, qualifying for the National Championships 10 times since 2004.
Jayraj Jadeja took silver in the boys’ singles back in 2004 and followed it up with a bronze the next year. Kingston also have two bronze medals in the girls’ singles event through Rachel Phillips and Libby Johnston in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
Their last National Championships tennis success came in 2011, when the college came away with a gold medal in 2011, thanks to mixed doubles pair Tom Miles and Christa Gecheva.
Despite qualifying for the Championships several times over the last five years, they’re still waiting to replicate that success. But in Tyne and Wear, Kingston have two shots at a medal, with girls’ doubles pair Shelby Rowe and Alice White, alongside boys’ doubles duo Alfie Heiberg and Zino Arbane qualifying through the regional tournaments to represent London.
“The students have often commented on what a marvellous opportunity it has been and how much they enjoyed the whole event,” said Programme Leader and Academy Director Bill Parton. “For many, this is a major highlight to their college career. The finals are always a tremendous incentive for students to improve their performance in their sport of choice and compete in a major event.”
What they say: “There’s a real air of anticipation across the London Colleges, with returning students eager to better their results from last year, and new students keen to make an impression!
“Now the regional qualifiers have passed, there’s also a fantastic team ethos developing, with staff from across the representative colleges, working together to ensure a supportive and successful environment is provided for the students.
“For many students this is the furthest they’ll have travelled within the UK, so there’s real excitement about both the competitive aspect of the Championships, and taking full advantage of the experience!”
(Beth Harris - Sports Academy Manager, NewVic)