University of Bolton Student Cara’s ‘Phenomenal Journey’ to Compete in World University Games in USA

Student Cara Loates has enjoyed an amazing experience competing in the winter edition of the biennial FISU World University Games in the USA, which attracts thousands of student athletes from across the globe. The 19-year-old from Salford was able to do so thanks to financial support from the University of Bolton where she is studying Sport Rehabilitation. Cara competed in the tough biathlon event (cross country skiing and shooting) at the Games in Lake Placid. Here she talks about her “phenomenal journey”.

“Ever since I was young, I have participated in a variety of sports, from martial arts, to triathlon, to rowing. When I was 14, I decided to focus on rowing and started to train more. After several years of training in a team of four we became a competitive crew and started to win national medals.”

“However, when Covid hit all rowing stopped. Towards the end of the pandemic, I saw an advert to try biathlon and thought ‘I’ve never skied or shot a rifle before, but it looks fun, I’ll give it a go.

“The past 18 months have been a whirlwind, from successful selection for the British Biathlon Talent ID Campaign, to racing my first international season.

“The biathlon competitions in Lake Placid took place at Mount Van Hoevenberg which has beautiful ski tracks up the mountain through the forest.

“Rather consistently I finished 40th in all three races – the 7.5k sprint, 12.5k individual and 10k pursuit. Every 2.5-kilometre lap I had to stop at the range and shoot five targets 50 metres away. The targets were the size of a golf ball when shooting lying down and a cricket ball when shooting standing. Every missed target is a penalty.

“Unfortunately, my ski speed was a little lacking and I lost too much time on the technical downhills and corners. Overall, a lot of lessons were learnt, and it was great to experience racing on such a big stage with cameras and media everywhere.

“The University of Bolton’s financial support was a game changer, as there is no funding for biathlon in Great Britain. I was considering using my student loan to pay for the games, which I know isn’t what it’s supposed to be used for!

“I am so thankful for the University’s financial and academic support; it was one less barrier to being a successful student athlete.

“I will graduate in 2025 with a Sport Rehabilitation degree which is not only something I enjoy but a career I hope will take me around the world.

“I have really enjoyed the University of Bolton experience and am so glad I chose Bolton over other universities. Bolton is a smaller university, but that means you get to know your classmates and lecturers so much better and the support from the Sport Rehab department has been amazing.

“Between competitions and training, I fit in my university work to stay up to date with the curriculum to maintain a healthy balance of sport and education. The final competition of the season is the Junior World Championships in Kazakhstan.

“It has been a phenomenal journey since I started the sport 18 months ago and my first international season has been a blast.”