UCL student competes at Glasgow Commonwealth Games
11 August 2014
As the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games drew to a close last week, UCL student Anand Patel (Chemistry MSci, Second year) was among the 5,000 athletes celebrating their participation in one of the world's biggest sporting events.
Competing alongside greats including Usain Bolt, Bradley Wiggins and UCL alumna Christine Ohuruogu, Anand represented the Isle of Man in gymnastics against the likes of Olympic silver medallist Louis Smith.
"I moved to the Isle of Man when I was 5, and it was from that age that I started gymnastics", he says. "I was a clumsy and overactive child so my parents thought it would be good idea to introduce me to the sport! Initially, I hated it but over time I became addicted."
Roar of the crowd
Featuring athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations competing over 11 days, the Commonwealth Games is the largest competition that 20-year-old Anand has ever participated in.
"It was a superb experience competing against the best in the world. The atmosphere in the SSE Hydro arena was fantastic. The roar of the crowd kept me fuelled with adrenaline - it was unlike any other competition that I've been in."
And performing in front of 12,000 people in such a major competition across six gymnastics apparatus, including floor, rings, vault and high bar, has proven to be a valuable learning experience:
"On the first day, I couldn't control my nerves - there was so much adrenaline. In gymnastics, you have to control the adrenaline because the discipline requires perfect precision and mental focus; if you don't, you're more likely to make mistakes.
"On the second day, however, I learned from my earlier experience and performed like I do in training - my two vaults were a highlight as I landed both perfectly!"
The roar of the crowd kept me fuelled with adrenaline - it was unlike any other competition that I've been in.
Despite narrowly missing out on making the finals of the Vault and the All-Around competitions, Anand explains that his Games experience was far from being just about the competition:
"I went to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and both were incredible. Seeing such a huge crowd at the Opening Ceremony was extraordinary - I spent the whole time trying to spot the Isle of Man flags while also just trying to take in the atmosphere. And the Closing Ceremony was exciting and inspiring. There was this sense of relief as everyone had finished competing, and that made the parties afterwards a real highlight!"
Surrounded by stars
"Another highlight was staying in the Athletes' Village - a really fun and unique experience. Everything was provided and everything was free; from physiotherapy and massages to food. By the end of the Games, my diet consisted of mostly pizza - the reward for many years of hard work!
"Staying in the village also meant that I was able to meet many athletes; old friends that I had competed with in the past and renowned names, like Usain Bolt and Max Whitlock. Surprisingly, the famous athletes were all really down-to-earth."
With two more years of study at UCL and more gymnastics competitions coming up, Anand is keeping his future options open.
"I'm in a fantastic position, both academically and in my sport. Thinking four years ahead, I feel that I'm in with a chance of a medal at the next Commonwealth Games taking place in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018."
But he also adds, "I love chemistry and I'd love to do something in the future that is related to everything that I've learned throughout my time at UCL".
Anand will next compete in September at the Northern European Championships in Denmark.
- Credit: Tom Jenkins/the Guardian