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Senior sports lecturer receives Royal honours

Press Release   •   Jun 13, 2016 11:15 BST

A Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching has received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his leading work in coaching gymnastics.

Karl Wharton, who leads the University’s undergraduate Sport Coaching course, received the award of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his outstanding service to coaching gymnasts, both internationally and regionally, thanks to his roles on the FIG International Federation of Gymnastics and in leading the Deerness Gymnastics Academy in Durham.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours recognise the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK who have made achievements in public life and have committed themselves to serving and helping Britain.

Karl was a school PE teacher before becoming a national coach with British Gymnastics. He joined Northumbria’sDepartment of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation in 2005, where his expertise helped set up the University’s Sports Coaching degree. A leading academic in coaching education, Karl has produced several chapters for recent sports coaching books on athlete development, growth and maturation and working with elite young athletes.

Karl is also a highly respected international gymnastics coach, judge and administrator. He serves on the International Federation of Gymnastics, where he ensures Great Britain is represented and has influence at the highest level of the sport, and is about to undertake his third successive Olympic cycle. He recently returned from spending three weeks at the World Championships in China where Northumbria Sport Science student, Ryan Dury, finished in second place.

In his spare time, Karl also makes time to oversee the running of the Deerness Gymnastics Academy. The not-for-profit community club is used by more than 800 people of all ages and abilities each week. It has produced more than 100 gymnasts who have represented Great Britain, producing 15 World and European champions. His work with the club has led to him receiving the BBC North East Sports Award for service to sport and the Sir Bobby Robson Leading Light Local Heroes award.

Students on Northumbria’s sports courses benefit from Karl’s national and international coaching roles. He regularly brings gymnasts into the University to work with coaching, strength and conditioning students to give them hands-on experience of applying training techniques in real-life situations.

Speaking about the honour, Karl said: “I have a great passion and love for sport coaching. This is a very great honour, and one I never dreamed of receiving. Although I received the official letter a little while ago, I am still really shocked and surprised, and, of course, honoured.

“The sport of gymnastics has developed greatly over the past few years and it has been a privilege to have been a part of this success at a local, national and international level. A lot of my academic colleagues say they don’t know how I manage to combine everything – and it is hard work with very long days – but for me it is very important to continue working as a practitioner with athletes at every level. It enables me to apply academic theory to real-world practice, which is a huge benefit to both my students and my athletes.”

Professor Dianne Ford, Executive Dean of Northumbria’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see Karl’s commitment and dedication to his sport recognised in this way. We are proud to have Karl in the Faculty. His experience and esteem in gymnastics brings a unique and highly valued perspective to his teaching, from which our students get great benefit.”

Professor John Saxton, Head of Northumbria’s Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, which is based in the Faculty, added: “This is a fitting acknowledgment of Karl’s commitment to his discipline and the difference he has made to the sport of gymnastics. He is a highly valued member of the Department and our students benefit greatly from his enormous experience and passion.”

Northumbria University was one of the original providers of sport degrees in the UK and its sport science courses are currently ranked 25th in the country in The Guardian University Guide 2017. Graduates of the University’s sports courses include Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton; track and field athlete Steve Cram and former England rugby captain Martin Corry.

Northumbria is a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence. To find out more about our courses go to www.northumbria.ac.uk

If you have a media enquiry please contact our Media and Communications team at media.communications@northumbria.ac.uk or call 0191 227 4571.

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