Sports scholar Kai enjoys triumphant debut at Royal Windsor Triathlon

July 2019

A University College Birmingham sports scholar has swum, cycled and run his way to glory in a prestigious UK triathlon – with a helping hand from UCB.

Kai Furnell-Brennan clinched first place in the sprint event on his debut appearance at the Royal Windsor Triathlon.

The BSc Sports Therapy student completed the challenge – a 750m swim along the Thames, a 20km cycle through Berkshire and a 5km run around Windsor – in a time of 1 hour 7 minutes 44 seconds, more than a minute ahead of the second-placed athlete.

"It was great to win the race," said Kai. "It felt very good to be in control too.

"It's a goal event to me as I'm based there, so I thought I would enter and see how it was having heard good things about it.

“The race went very well – better than expected, I can say that!”

Kai first got involved in triathlon at the age of 13, taking part in regional competitions before entering the elite series two years later.

The 19-year-old previously represented Great Britain in the age group 16-19 sprint category at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Finals in 2017 and 2018 before starting at UCB last autumn.

And Kai revealed how studying at the University has helped him in his training for Windsor and other triathlon events, receiving support from staff including Sports Therapy lecturer Mark Newman.

"Mark has been a great help to me," said Kai. "He has been letting me do a range of sporting tests from VO2 max to lactate testing, as well as training me with his strength and conditioning expertise and teaching me how to lift safely and properly in The Maltings gym.

"The staff have been very warm, super helpful and supportive. They've tried to help me as much as they can, which I have appreciated greatly."

Kai has also been supported through UCB's Sporting Excellence Scholarship scheme, which offers help with costs and training for students who have demonstrated excellence in sporting achievement.

The scholarships provide up to £1,000 off the cost of tuition fees each year and up to £500 towards travel costs, as well as UCB-branded training wear and an individually-tailored programme offering support with strength and conditioning, nutrition and psychology.

"The Sporting Excellence Scholarship scheme is a great idea," said Kai. "It has benefited me greatly with the aid of covering some of my sporting event entries, and providing kit I've been able to wear when representing the University."

Having completed the first year of his degree, Kai is now looking forward to further success both in racing and in his studies.

"I'm looking to do a few more races this year, with the London Triathlon being another goal of mine, and see how I can finish off the season having found my race form," he said.

Elaine Limond, Assistant Dean of UCB's School of Sport and Creative Services, said: "We're very proud of all the achievements of our student athletes, but Kai, in particular, has been really effective at using the support available and balancing his work and training load.

"He fully engages with the bespoke support on offer via the programme and has specifically utilised the training and testing support provided by the experienced staff at UCB this year. With the progress he's made, I'm sure he will continue to make great gains both in and out of competition."

Find out more about our Sporting Excellence Scholarship scheme here.

Explore our full range of courses within UCB's School of Sport and Creative Services here.

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