Several athletic students from Grŵp Llandrillo Menai's colleges represented their country recently, when they took part in the Association of Colleges' (AOC) National Championships. The competition pitted the best talent from colleges in Wales, England and Northern Ireland against each other in a range of team sports over three days.
Students from Coleg Llandrillo's Rhos on Sea campus, Coleg Meirion Dwyfor's Pwllheli and Dolgellau campuses and Coleg Menai's Bangor campus competed in a variety of sports under the Wales banner, winning several medals in the process.
The championships, which took place at the University of Nottingham, gave all the athletes a professional platform to showcase their skills. Three of the athletes who competed took time out of their hectic schedules to give their thoughts on the events on the field and court.
Caitlin Dolan, 17, from Rhyl - who is a student at the Rhos-on-Sea campus - was taking part in the Women's Badminton competition at her first championships. A first year Sports Science student, Caitlin represents Prestatyn throughout her club badminton season.
When quizzed on the quality of the championships, Caitlin responded:
It was a big jump from playing for my club, although I see this as a positive, as it prepares me for future challenges with the possibility of playing at university. It's a great feeling to be at such a big sporting event, and to be representing my country is an amazing feeling. The chance to combine my studies and my sport, with a clear chance of progression to a higher level, is definitely something I thought about before coming to college. It's been amazing.
All members of our team gave a great account of themselves and can be very proud of their efforts. Up against a very high level of competition, we all held our own in closely fought games, with the final day proving the most fruitful. We managed to grab two wins in the singles and a win in the doubles too!
Coleg Menai representative, 18-year-old gold medal-winning Sophie Ellis from Bethesda, is one of the girls with experience from last year's tournament. Sophie was keen to comment on the prestige of the tournament as well, pointing out the potential opportunities it will create to further herself in sport.
Managing to win the Women's Rugby competition is a fantastic achievement and something sure to live long in the memory of all those involved. Events like this are a great way to show your credentials to play at a higher level, and it's great to get my foot in the door for possible chances with the full Wales 7's squad. This is a chance that wouldn't have had unless I chose to study in college.
All members of the Women's Rugby team certainly capitalised on their opportunity to shine: the girls went unbeaten until their final game, but by that point they already had the gold medal wrapped up.
Last but not least is 18-year-old Cari Davies from Blaenau Ffestiniog, who was a prominent member of the Women's Hockey team. Cari studies at the Pwllheli campus, and is a very experienced member of the team having gained a total of nine caps for the Welsh Women's team, in countries including Lithuania and Poland.
Coming into the weekend we were hopeful of just playing as well as we could as a team and enjoying the experience. The results were a reward for the team's hard work and the coaches' efforts. The set up here is really good and has given me a taste of what to expect at university. I'd love to carry on playing hockey whilst studying.
Cari hopes to study at Bath University after finishing her course at college and will be looking to make big strides in the game in future, with more Welsh caps sure to follow.
All three were a credit to their colleges over the course of the Championships and serve to underline the opportunities there for student-athletes to excel both in the classroom and in the sporting arena.
To find out more about our courses in Sport, please call the college's Learner Services team on 01492 542 338 or visit www.gllm.ac.uk/sport