South Yorkshire’s Sarah and Mark are honoured

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LOCAL sporting luminaries Sarah Stevenson and Mark Aston collected doctorates from Sheffield Hallam University yesterday.

Doncaster’s World Taekwondo Champion Sarah Stevenson MBE said receiving the accolade for her services to sport compared with reading the athletes’ oath at London 2012.

Sarah, who grew up in Bentley and was educated at Don Valley High School in Scawthorpe, said the honorary doctorate capped a remarkable year where she represented Team GB at London 2012 despite the loss of her parents and injury.

She said: “I’m privileged to have been an athlete for 20 years and thank the University for honouring me.

“Things like the MBE and the Olympic oath are just as important to me as an athletics medal round my neck.

Sarah, who won the world championship at 2011 in Gyeongju and was chosen to read the competitors’ oath at London 2012, won bronze at Beijing, and although injury hindered her medal attempts at London 2012, she has won plaudits for her approach to taekwondo and life.

She became Junior World Champion in 1998, followed by Junior European Champion in 1999. She went on to become the first British Taekwondo World Champion, ever, in 2001.

Sarah has since become four times European Champion and World silver medalist in 2005.

She has set up a company Sarah Stevenson Inspires which aims to motivate, educate and inspire people of all ages to achieve their goals both in and out of the sporting arena.

Sheffield Eagles boss Aston, in his acceptance speech, paid tribute to the “massive relationship” between Hallam and his club, which has seen eight of its junior players accepted onto the University’s courses this year alone.

Mark’s Eagles team defeated the much-fancied Featherstone Rovers for their first major trophy since the 1998 Challenge Cup final win over Wigan in the Co-operative Championship Grand Final on 30 September.

He said: “I have to pinch myself that we did so well in the Grand Final, which put Sheffield back on the rugby league map.

“And to get the honorary doctorate from Hallam is very special to me.”