A Sporting Chance of Future Success; St Mary's University College Is Helping Students Get on the Right Track with Great Training Facilities and a Friendly Approach

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Byline: SARAH RICHARDSON

WHEN Mo Farah won gold in the 5,000 metres at the World Athletics Championships in South Korea earlier this month, a university college in west London was delighted to join in the celebrations -- and confident that he won't be their last alumnus to achieve international sporting success.

St Mary's University College in Twickenham was founded in 1850 as a Catholic teacher-training college, and about a third of its students still take teaching courses, including PGCEs.

But alongside its highly regarded education department (and its other courses in drama, humanities, media, social science theology and management), St Mary's is the Institute of Sport's leading centre in London and has many Olympic hopefuls currently training on its campus.

In the past three years, St Mary's has provided more runners for international cross-country teams than any higher education institution or club in the country.

According to its principal, Professor Philip Esler, St Mary's is a modern, friendly university college offering the best of both worlds. He says: "With just under 4,000 students it's easy to feel at home quickly but we're big enough to offer you all the challenges and excitement of a full and rewarding student life. Our friendly, caring atmosphere ensures a warm welcome."

On the banks of the River Thames -- and 10 miles from central London -- the campus is an excellent location for visiting athletic teams.

South African, Irish and Chinese Olympic squads have chosen St Mary's as their pre-Games training camp for next year.

The athletes will be based at the university college and the Lensbury hotel complex and will also use a number of top quality club venues in the area.

Key to its selection as a pre-Games training camp was the building of a new [pounds sterling]8.25million sports centre, which enhances the provision for elite sport at St Mary's.

The facility creates a single centre by linking the new facility to the existing games hall and original Sixties sports block, which has also been refurbished. …