World champions Adam Gemili and Geoff Thompson delivered some inspiring words to the new cohort of University of East London (UEL) sports scholars when they gathered for their formal induction on to the University's High Performance Programme on Wednesday.
Thompson, a former five-time world karate champion, was recently appointed Chair of Governors at UEL while sprint star Gemili, a gold medallist in the 4 x 100 metres relay at this summer's World Athletics Championships in London, graduated from the University two years ago having been through the same programme.
The evening introduced some of the University's new sports scholars to the programme, including GB international long-jumper J.J. Jegede, and celebrated UEL's record-breaking achievements over the past year across a range of sports such as athletics, football, basketball, volleyball and tennis.
UELSports finished in its highest ever position in the British University and College Sport (BUCS) league table in 2017, with students winning an unprecedented total of 28 individual BUCS medals.
Just to be selected for the programme is a big achievement in itself, with 150 sports scholars having been chosen from more than 1,000 applicants.
Thompson congratulated the scholars on their sporting successes so far but urged them to aim even higher.
"UEL is in a good place, but it can be in an even better place," he said.
"I don't believe in being in the middle of the table. UEL has got to be the top of that table.
"I looked for those who would inspire me, and you need to find somebody that will inspire you to aspire to be the best you can be."
Gemili, who is aiming to make a big impact at next year's Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast, studied for a degree in sports and exercise science from 2012-2015 and knows how hard it is to balance academic study and elite-level training.
Speaking directly to he scholars, he said, "Enjoy the moment while you can and enjoy your time and really take an interest, and do everything.
"It's hard enough to get a degree normally. To do it and try and play sport every day is tough.
"So make sure you plan your time, work with your lecturer and work with your friends to get it done."
Geoff Thompson (left) and Adam Gemili (right) welcome the 2017-2018 UEL sports scholars