Dozens of sports students at Sunderland College are celebrating after making it through to the finals of one of the largest annual sporting events in England.
They have all qualified for the AoC (Association of Colleges) Sport 2016 National Championships which, for the first time in its history, will be held in Newcastle, Sunderland and Gateshead.
In total, 28 students will be representing Sunderland College across a range of sports including football, swimming, rugby and trampolining after they triumphed in the regional tournaments last month.
The finals take place in April and will involve more than 1,800 students who will be travelling to the North East from colleges up and down the country.
Swimming student Emma Cassell, 17, from Hartlepool, said: “I am really pleased to qualify for the AoC National Championships because it allows us to gain new experiences when representing the college. In the future, I am looking towards representing England in swimming so competing in a big event like this is really beneficial for my development in the sport.”
Sunderland College saw success in the 2015 National Championships, which were held in Bath, with students from the Swimming Development Centre scooping five medals.
The college is now hoping to build on this success in the upcoming finals, which will see the students compete at a range of venues including Northumbria University, Sunderland Aquatic Centre and Gateshead Leisure Centre.
Sunderland College’s multi-million pound Sports Academy, which is located at Bede campus and opened in September 2014, has also been selected as a training venue for the National Championships.
The college has invested heavily in its sporting facilities in recent years and is home to development centres in a number of sports, including football, rugby, swimming, cricket and coaching, which provide students with the chance to train on a daily basis while also studying towards a sports qualification.
Graham Mytton, Sunderland College’s head of sport, said: “It is fantastic to see our talented students fly the flag high for the college and qualify for the AoC Sport National Championships, particularly as the competition is being held in our region.
“In addition to our successful swimming development centre students who once again qualified in multiple categories, we can add men’s football, women’s rugby and trampolining to our list of successful sports. This reflects the investment the college has made into our sports development centre students and the hard work from the students, coaches and development staff.”