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Sport Students’ Success at University

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When Russell Wheldon left school with only a handful of GCSEs, no higher than a Grade D, his prospects of a high-flying career seemed pretty low.

His confidence was at rock bottom and he had little desire or interest in further study.

But after a good talking to some years later, Russell turned his life around and he is graduating from the University of Worcester this autumn with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Coaching Science.

Twenty-four-year-old Russell, who is now starting a Masters degree and aims to complete a PhD and become a university lecturer, said: “Coming to the University of Worcester has been the best thing I ever did. I’ve gained confidence and found in myself a real desire to do well.”

Russell, who was born in the Black Country and now lives in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, joined the University on a HND after completing a BTEC at Dudley College.

After his first year at the University he had impressed staff so much that he was able to transfer onto a degree course. He continued impressing staff, gaining top grades, despite suffering with dyslexia, and found a new passion in disability sport.

Since 2010 Russell has been involved in blind and visually impaired football through the University and has now secured a job with the Football Association as a Performance Analyst for the Great Britain Blind Football squad and the England Visually Impaired squad.

“I’m now travelling the world in a job I absolutely love,” he said. “It’s been a real journey for me since leaving school. I never dreamed I would have a First Class degree and be looking at such a bright future ahead of me.”

Karen Van Berlo, Senior Lecturer in Physical Education at the University, said: “Russell’s transformation from a very shy, reticent fresher to an assertive speaker on his work with the FA and the value of the university experience as a whole is remarkable.”