Thanks to funding from alumni and friends towards the University’s High Performance Programme, badminton player Dan Bethell, LLB 2017, LLM 2018 has his sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
I loved badminton from the very first lesson – the speed and power of the game. But I had come across a few sports coaches who believed I should be treated differently because of my disability. When you have cerebral palsy, simple day-to-day tasks are more difficult. But playing sports made me physically stronger and more flexible. It helped me to cope with living with a disability.
Bristol’s combination of sporting and academic excellence made me feel as though I could thrive on and off the court, and the support from the University’s High Performance Programme has been amazing. Bristol staff go the extra mile to make sure everyone achieves their best. In my first year, I sprained my ankle in training on the week of the national championships. I messaged the squad’s strength and conditioning coach late at night to ask for advice. He immediately sent me an essay-length text outlining what to do. The next day, he made calls to find a physio and I got a treatment plan sorted. I was able to compete, and win.
It’s not possible to win World Cups and Olympic medals without a team behind the athletes. The programme enables us to get a degree at one of the most prestigious universities in the country too, setting us up for a great future at the end of our sporting careers. I’ve been given financial and academic support, training in strength and conditioning, nutrition and sports psychology, and so much more. I’ve been given the tools to become a world-class athlete.
And that’s exactly what I’ve become thanks to alumni and friends like you. I won the men’s singles European Championships in 2014 and 2016, won three bronze medals at the World Championships in 2015, and my greatest achievement was when I ranked number one in the world from 2015-2017. I wouldn’t have achieved this success without the High Performance Programme.
In April, I was awarded a generous grant from UK Sport that will allow me to split my time between training on the Team GB Elite Programme, and my postgraduate studies at Bristol. My eye is fixed firmly on looking to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020, and to fulfil my dream of winning gold for my country.
By funding the programme, Bristol donors have given students like me a team of experts to ensure they can maximise their talent and achieve great things. But most importantly, it has also given me a group of friends who are going through the same things I am, who have similar challenges, who have similar goals and dreams, and we’re there for each other when it gets tough. And for that, I am forever thankful.
Thank you for keeping Bristol brilliant. Click here to return to our Benefactor’s report 2017/18.