Double Olympic silver medallist Louis Smith MBE swapped Rio for the Rotunda to officially launch a new suite of Sports and Life Sciences degree courses being offered by Birmingham City University.
The Team GB star visited the Bullring shopping centre on Monday 12th September to take part in a day of sports and health activities organised by the University to showcase the knowledge and skills which will be gained on the courses, which run from September 2017.
The gymnast used the University’s state-of-the-art equipment to challenge members of the public to beat his reaction times and cycling power, and had ultrasound scans on his arm to watch how his muscles moved.
As well as the chance to meet the Strictly Come Dancing winner, visitors to the city centre were surprised with regular flash mob style performances from the BCU Tiger Cheerleaders and the BCU Bhangra Society outside the Bull Ring shopping centre.
The launch marks the first time the University has offered degrees and post-graduate qualifications in subjects such as, Sports Therapy, Physiotherapy, Nutrition Science and Biomedical Engineering.
Louis, who followed up a bronze at Beijing in 2008 and silver and bronze medals in London 2012, with another silver at the Rio Games, was also given a tour of the University’s Edgbaston campus.
He surprised students by visiting a class and was shown the site where a new £41 million building is being constructed to house the new courses.
The building on Westbourne Road will be equipped with a suite of laboratories, ultrasound facilities and specialist teacher training rooms.
Louis said: “I couldn’t have made it to the Rio Olympics without the network of professionals I had working with, and supporting me.
“Now that I’m getting older in the sport, all these areas and the people putting in hours of graft to get us to where we are, are even more important.
“There’s so much that happens behind the scenes that people never really get the chance to see and they probably don’t realise exactly what goes on. So it’s great that these courses are being launched and hopefully they will hopefully help more athletes reach their potential in the future.”
On top of the facilities in the new building, students will also be able to make use of simulation rooms which allow learners to practice their skills on lifelike manikins in real-world environments, such as mock wards or operating theatres.
Once construction work is completed the University will be offering services to members of the public such as sports therapy and nutrition advice.
Professor John Deane, Head of School of Allied and Public Health Professions, at Birmingham City University, said: “Today marks a major step for the University as we launch these courses for the first time, and we are delighted to be joined by such a talented and well renowned star to help us do that.
“We wanted to take ourselves out into the community to show people the broad range of courses and careers Sports and Life Sciences takes in, as well as give them the chance to have a bit of fun and test themselves against the abilities of top athletes.
“Professional sports people rely on the support of sports and science professionals to make the most of their talents and hopefully we can start to see some of our graduates take up that mantle in the future.”