March 3, 2022, by brzbs1
Scholar in Focus: Simran Kaur
Recently, you may have seen that the University of Nottingham was brilliantly represented at the BUCS Nationals event in Sheffield from the 18th to the 20th February. One of our top performers across the weekend was Simran Kaur, who claimed a gold medal in the 60M T46 Sprint on the Friday evening. Simran is a scholar at the university and we managed to catch up with her at David Ross Sports Village on her return to the University of Nottingham campus. We discussed her Nationals success, but also her wider journey in athletics, and how she ended up sprinting the length of the track at EIS in Sheffield faster than any of her competitors.
Great to meet you Simran! It’d be great to hear about yourself and your journey into athletics.
So I never really started with athletics as my first sport, I actually played football for about 10 years. I first picked up athletics when I went to secondary school and managed to then do both at the same time. However, I then tore my ACL which ultimately stopped my football career, but once recovered I transitioned all the way into athletics. In my first year competing in athletics I made it into the GB junior world championships team, on which I managed to medal in the 100 metres and 200 metres. However, since then there hasn’t been a season where I’ve been able to fully compete because of injury and Coronavirus, so this is my first full season of competition.
It sounds like you picked up athletics pretty quickly and ‘hit the ground running’! How has the transition been to the sport?
Well in my footballing days I played up front and I was always running for the ball and causing problems with my quickness, so my PE teacher at the time decided to give me the chance to try the 100m. I really enjoyed it and won my first race which always helps! Now, I love the 100m because it’s obviously so quick which means that you’ve got to get it right – you can’t mess up and you have to make every moment count. It’s also a very technical sport which I don’t think a lot of people realise. It’s not just running as fast as you can, because even though I had the initial speed, I’ve needed the technique to make me faster.
Do you therefore enjoy the individuality of sprinting, compared to team sport such as football?
I did love being a part of a football team environment, but even in athletics you do still manage to have team environments when you go to camps or events such as Nationals. However, as I said, when it comes to performing – it’s all on you to achieve. That pressure is something that I really enjoy, and also something that I use to excel. Pushing yourself outside of the comfort zone is something that I believe provides brilliant results.
So recently, obviously we had BUCS Nationals in Sheffield, did you feel pressure or nerves before representing the university?
There is always pre-race nerves. I would say I was comfortably nervous. If you don’t get nervous, I think that’s when you need to start worrying! With nerves, you’re either going to let them get the better of you or excel. Whenever I reach that point, I always feel I’m going to run my fastest and at Nationals, the university team were there for extra support. I could hear them when I was running on the track which was really nice! As a first year it was my first major event representing the University of Nottingham, and being able to attend the event as part of a great team was a brilliant experience.
Being a University of Nottingham Sport scholar, you’re obviously part of a group of elite athletes too. How has that experience been in your first year of university?
It’s been really, really helpful. I think back in Bristol, where I’m from, I was getting tired of the repetition in my routine. Since I’ve been here though, I’m studying and training, both running on the track and coming to the gym. Having the support from the coaches, lifestyle advisors and the scholarship team is really nice. At BUCS Nationals for example, Phil (Scholarship & Recruitment Manager) and everyone else was there showing their support which was great to have.
Did you know about these aspects of the scholarship before you came to university? What was your process in deciding to enrol at the University of Nottingham?
I think I was getting to the point back home where I needed a change, whether that be university or straight into a job. I decided upon university and from there it was a choice between Nottingham and Loughborough. I was invited here and found that Nottingham itself is a really nice place, and when I had a look around and met with Phil, I felt that I was already part of the family. I went through similar experiences at other universities but they didn’t replicate the community feel that the University of Nottingham has. That feeling has continued and made it a lot easier to settle in during my first year.
You say that you’ve settled in well, what’s your routine like here balancing studying and training? What are you studying at the university?
I’m studying Chemistry and have recently started in person lectures again which is good, but I’ve needed to adapt and work my time around those for the gym. During the day I’m usually attending lectures or studying, and then hitting the track in the evenings. The days that I usually go the gym are ones where I have gaps in my study schedule, so it’s not been too difficult to manage. I do more training on the track in general, especially in the summer because it can be colder on the track in winter! Technical work is really important, so I do focus more on that, but I do regularly use the gym to supplement that work. I’ve enjoyed being busy, especially after being sat around during Covid!
What are you aims over the next few years at the university, both academic and sporting?
I want to keep up with and improve the level i’m at in my athletics, and make another international team. Unfortunately, I can’t go to the Commonwealths as they don’t run my discipline. I’m just hoping to make some more teams and hopefully make a para-Olympic team in the future. Whether it’s Paris or LA – that is something to aim for. In my academics, I want to really focus on sustainable chemistry. Obviously the world around us needs us to look after it, so I want to look at how we can help in ways such as converting from petrol vehicles to electric.
Are those interests in sustainability something you were keen on before you came to the University of Nottingham and why you chose to study Chemistry?
I’ve always loved chemistry, but with the world in the condition that it is in, something needs to change I want to be a part of that change. Whether that’s a big part or small part, I hope I can make a difference.
You’re a para-athlete here at the university, would you mind telling us more about that side of your story?
When I was a couple of months old, doctors found a lump on my arm which over a few years developed into cancer, and I had my arm amputated at four years old. As kids, we are all pretty resilient and I wasn’t really affected by it. I just kind of got on with it. Obviously, it’s a big thing to happen but the disability hasn’t really held me back!
Well you’re here winning gold medals at BUCS, on a brilliant course with a bright future, so it definitely hasn’t held you back! Have you had a close support network throughout?
My parents are the best, and with my little brother we have a very close-knit family. They’ve always supported everything I’ve wanted to do and all I can do is thank them. I don’t think I’d be as resilient or as strong in all that I do without them. They’ve helped me in a lot of hard times by just letting me play sport. Sport has always been my release and they’ve supported me in all of my sporting endeavours, all the way up to being there to support me at all my races, including Nationals. They’ve also been to campus and enjoy the surroundings here.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to try athletics at university?
I think coming to university is a daunting thing, and when you add in trying to do sport like athletics too, it can be quite scary going from what you know to a bigger group of older people, but I would say just bite the bullet and go for it! I was initially worried about what the coach would be like, what the group would be like and how fast I would be, but Fiona my coach is such an inspirational coach and the group are so supportive. It was a nice surprise, so I’d say don’t be scared and come along! You can easily get in touch with the athletics club on social media.
We thank Simran for her time and wish her all the best as we follow her journey at the University of Nottingham over the next few years. We’re sure there is much more success to come!
As well as a reputation for academic excellence, we have a history of sporting success and are passionate about supporting promising athletes during their time at the University of Nottingham. To find out more about our Sports Scholarships, please click here.
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