Bryant heads to Gotzis
2012 is going to be a big year for Ashley, and assuming everything goes to plan, a potential Olympic year! The life of a decathlete is often a tough one, but for ones who are juggling a degree course during an Olympic year, things can get pretty hectic, not to mention exciting. Since joining us two years ago, Ashley has gone from strength to strength as an athlete, achieving progressive personal bests year upon year. This year sees the European Senior Championships, followed by the London Olympics rapidly approaching, and both will be firmly in Ashley’s mindset.
2011 was a very successful year for Ash’s sporting career so far. In his first decathlon, he competed in the prestigious event Desenzano which is held in Italy. This was his first senior IAAF affiliated world combined events challenge competition, were Ash rose to the challenge against tough competition to score a big personal best of 7586 points, placing him in 6th position at the close of the weekend’s event.
Ashley’s second decathlon of last year pitched him against the best of Britain at the national championships. Unfortunately, as is the scourge of most decathletes, he was recovering from a recent injury after tearing a calf muscle towards the end of his match in Italy. Despite this small setback, Brunel’s sports scholar dug deep and produced another sterling performance, with another lifetime best of 7638 points, which won him the England u23 title. This result also placed him in 2nd within the senior men’s competition and earned him his first national senior medal. Furthermore, the impressive result secured Ash place in the European Cup Senior GB team for the first time in his career, where his new aim had become qualification to the World Student Games in China, chasing score of 7700 points to do so.
Back in Italy, this time in Brassanone for his first European Cup 1st League match, Ash performed brilliantly under pressure to achieve the qualifying mark, managing to set two new personal bests and one season’s best in the last 3 events to ensure he scored the 7700 points needed to book his flight to China.
From the start of last season, Ash had sat down with Brunel Multi Events coach Ian Grant and gone through his goals and aspirations for the forthcoming year. On the top of the list was to have the chance to compete in the World Student Games. Now the aim was to stay fit and compete on a world stage, knowing that another strong performance could see Ashley standing upon the medal rostrum at the end of the competition. To achieve this feat however, Ash would need to overcome a large age gap between himself and many of the other competitors. Despite being one of the youngest athletes at the competition, yet again, Ash put in a great performance which saw him maintain a top three position for the majority of the event, but unfortunately missed out on a medal finish by the narrowest of margins, taking 5th place for Brunel and GB with yet another personal best score.
2012 is a new challenge for the talented Sports Scholar; with Olympic standards set especially high for the Games this year by UK Athletics, Ash knows he will need to be on top of his game to achieve the Olympic A benchmark of 8200 points. Due to a very successful season in 2011, Ashley has been awarded an invite to Europe’s largest multi events competition outside of a National Championships. His reward for last season’s improvements has been a chance to compete amongst the best athletes in the world at the ‘invite-only’ Hypo Combined Events
Meeting in Gotzis, Austria. This competition should provide Ash with the perfect opportunity to score the required standard needed to automatically qualify for the London Olympics, and with only a few crucial attempts available each year, this and the European Senior Championships could provide the perfect backdrop for a shot at the Games.
During his time at Brunel, Ash has gone from strength to strength as an athlete, and coach Ian Grant is delighted he is beginning to realise the potential he has shown as a youngster. Since his initial year, progress has been sharp, whilst Ashley now enjoys being amongst the top few Decathletes in the country. Brunel University Sport is delighted to have supported this rise, and through the Scholarship scheme in place, we have been able to provide Ash with many positive measures to ensure his athletics and studies are not compromised. Ashley confirmed this recently commenting that “studying and training at Brunel has helped me immensely, with advantages like having accommodation next to the track, and the ability to have coursework and deadlines moved around competition times has helped to ease work pressures that may affect my performances. In my opinion, Brunel University Sport has made a great contribution to my past results I believe I wouldn’t have achieved my current athletic status without the help I have received from the guys here”.
We wish him all the best for this upcoming Olympic year, and hope he can achieve all his aspirations within the sport, whilst continuing to do what we can to support him during his journey.