Surf champ may wave goodbye

March 14, 2003

Britain's university surfing champion is threatening to quit Britain because of the lack of support for sporting excellence in higher education.

Nick Reid, who won the British Universities Surfing Championship in Newquay this month, said it was "near impossible" to pursue his sporting ambitions and keep up his full-time degree course at Bristol University. The 20-year-old politics student has no sponsorship, faces debts of more than £20,000 and says he gets "nothing - not even encouragement or recognition" from Bristol, despite representing the university in national and international competitions.

"I really want to finish my studies at Bristol but it is a serious option to leave Britain. It is near impossible to pursue surfing during full-time higher education."

Reid says his rivals at other universities get bursaries or sponsorship from local companies. Part of the problem is his choice of university - Bristol is two hours from the best beaches.

"There is a problem with support for sports in general in higher education, let alone with an emerging specialist sport such as surfing," he said.

Reid is also concerned about the lack of academic support from Bristol. He said that while some of his rivals had been given special dispensation over exams that had clashed with international competitions, he had not.

Bristol spokesman Barry Taylor said the university could not discuss individual students, but said: "We do a great deal to support and encourage sporting excellence and are proud of our students' many sporting achievements. But this is first and foremost an academic institution and exams are among the fundamentals."

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