Skip Navigation LinksAlumni » Notable Alumni Sport

Sir David Brailsford CBE, Cycling Coach Team GB
(Sport and Exercise Sciences with Psychology, 1994)

Sir Dave Brailsford is the Team Sky general manager and previous performance director of the British Cycling team. He led the British team to numerous victories at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Athens, Beijing and London respectively.
Under his leadership, Team GB has become the most successful track cycling team in modern history. In 2010, Brailsford became the manager of the new British-based professional team, Team Sky.
In 2012, as Team Sky principal, he oversaw Bradley Wiggins' victory in the Tour de France. He led the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Cycling Teams (covering track cycling, road racing, BMX and Mountain Biking) at the 2012 London Olympics. The team finished top of the medal table for the discipline. In 2013, he also oversaw Chris Froome's victory in the Tour de France. In 2014 he stepped down from his role as British Cycling Performance Director, to focus on his Team Sky duties.
Gill Burns MBE, Professional Womens Rugby Player
(Studied Teaching, 1986)

Gill started playing rugby for Liverpool Polytechnic in 1987, becoming Captain a year later. In 1988 she made her England debut against Sweden and her debut for Great Britain in 1989 against France. In 1989 she set up and captained Waterloo FC Womens Rugby and in the following years became Captain of the North and Captain of England.
She has received a world record of 73 England caps, five England 7s caps, two Great Britain caps and two World XV caps and retired from the sport in 2002. She was the North West representative on the North and National Rugby Football Union Women committees from 1988-1993.
Other rugby related honours include being the first woman to referee at Twickenham; receiving the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Team Award in 1994; Winning the Cosmopolitan Achievement Award for Sporting Success in 1994; Sports Writers Association Awards in 1994; Sports Personality of the Year Awards (BBC) in 1994; she received an invitation to 10 Downing Street to celebrate the Government’s plans for the future of sport in 1995 and in 1997 was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate Sport in the Life of the Nation.
In September 1999 she was the first woman player to be welcomed into the Rugby Hall of Fame. She was awarded the MBE in 2005 by the Queen for Services to Sport; became a Privileged Member of the RFU in 2012 and was Voted Waterloo Rugby Club All-time Hero in 2012.
Tracey Neville MBE, Retired International Netballer
(Nutrition and Sports Science, 2007)

Tracey played for England Netball and has more than 81 caps for her country. She represented England as a player at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships, and was also part of the England Netball Coaching team that won their first Gold medal at the World Series.
A serious knee injury forced her to retire from the game in 2008, but she has remained dedicated to raising the profile of netball throughout the country and began coaching - she runs the Tracey Neville Netball Academy.
In January 2011, Tracey was coach for Team Northumbria and the following October, she was appointed director of netball at Manchester-based Superleague club, Manchester Thunder.
In March 2015, Tracey was appointed coach of the England Netball team, and took the team to the Netball World Cup in Sydney.
Anna Jackson, Wheelchair Basketball Pioneer
(BSc Biology and PE/Sports Science, 1996)

Anna, originally from Ruthin, North Wales, has been a pioneer of wheelchair basketball in the Chester area since she took up the sport in 1997. Having previously been a keen hockey player, she was forced to retire during her time as a student due to severe knee problems which eventually prevented her from playing any 'running' sports. 
After just a short amount of time spent involved in wheelchair basketball and playing for her local club, she was selected to join the GB Women’s Wheelchair Basketball squad and a ten-year international playing career followed, during which time she earned 70 Caps, won bronze at the Paralympic World Cup in 2008 and silver in 2005 and played at two World Championships, three European Championships winning bronze in 1999 and 2003 and the 2000 Sydney Paralympic games.
Eventually Anna had to make the difficult decision to retire from playing international basketball. Off the court, however, she has continued to demonstrate her passion for the sport and is now Club Chairperson and Head Coach for Cheshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club, based in Ellesmere Port. She also works with young people and athletes, through her role as a member of the ‘Give back team’ for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, and as a ‘Sporting Champion’ - part of a Sport England initiative bringing world-class athletes face-to-face with young people and young adults to inspire and motivate them.
Jonathan Sleightholme, International Rugby Player
(History and PE/Sports Science, 1994)

Jonathan (Jon) Sleightholme completed his studies at the then Chester College in 1994, graduating with a BA (Hons) in History and PE/Sports Science. He qualified as a PE teacher and in more recent years has been a school rugby coach. 
His sportsmanship and dedication to rugby union enabled him to play on the wing for Wakefield, Bath, Northampton Saints, Yorkshire, England Sevens and England. He played for England twelve times, scoring four tries and has also played for the Barbarians.
He is a qualified PE teacher and currently works as a rugby coach at a school, and Managing Director Rugby for Sport2Business.
Linda Clark, International Rower
(PE, 1972)

After leaving Chester, Lin went on to teach (beoming Head of PE) and continued to have a successful rowing career together with her husband Jim (also a Chester alumnus and Olympic rower). Lin won both World and Commonwealth gold and silver medals and competed in two Olympic Games.
After retiring from rowing following the birth of their daughter Jessica, Lin completed an MA in Special Needs and became the Head of the Learning Centre and a Senior Teacher within the school where she had taught. She later became Assistant Head, Acting Deputy and then Vice-Principal when the school became an Academy.
Lin took early retirement in 2006 and is enjoying a very active life in Somerset.
John Carleton, Professional Rugby Player

John studied at Chester College from 1974-77 where he enjoyed playing sports. He went on to become an England international rugby union player. He toured twice with the British and Irish Lions, to South Africa in 1980 and New Zealand in 1983 and also played club rugby for Orrell RUFC.
George Courtney MBE, Football Referee
(Geography, 1961)

George Courtney was an Association Football referee at all levels from 1961. Appointed to the elite international panel in 1977, he controlled more than a century of international matches throughout the world. He was England’s sole referee in the World Cup Finals in Mexico 1986 and Italy 1990, and controlled three UEFA finals in 1982, 1986 and 1989. Controlled Arsenal v West Ham FA Cup Final at Wembley 1980. Awarded MBE in 1981 for services to Association Football.
Since retiring from the professional game in 1992 George has worked in the field of referee education in the top echelons, whilst continuing to referee actively at school and university levels in his native and beloved County Durham.
James Moore, Professional Rugby Union Player
(Business Information Systems, 2007)

James has represented England in Rugby Union at both County and Student Under 19 levels and was in the England 7s training squad. He started his club career with New Brighton RUFC on the Wirral.
He was spotted by Sale Sharks Academy boss James Wade, and shortly afterwards he moved to the Premiership club. He made his debut for Sale at Twickenham in the Zurich Wildcard Final, as well as playing for the team in the Premiership. He also represented Cheshire and Vale of Lune before moving to Coventry.
He was the leading point scorer in National One in the 2005/06 season and moved back into the professional game with the Cornish Pirates in 2006. He was part of the Pirates team that won the EDF National Trophy in 2007 and was voted the club’s ‘Sportsman of the Year’ in the same year.
Matt Thombs, Sports Psychologist
(Sport Studies and Geography, 1999 and MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2000)

Internationally renowned BASES (British Association of Sport and Exercise Scientists) accredited Sports Psychologist who has worked for numerous national governing bodies of sport as well as individual performers as an Applied Practitioner. He has helped athletes, coaches and members of the athletes’ support team to prepare, perform in and recover from Europa, Americas & World Cup races, World University Winter Games, Olympic Winter Games, World and European Championships, International tests and tournaments and Grand Prix.
He was appointed as the first ever mental skills coach by England Rugby Union to the Under 20 team.
Trevor Pountain, Basketball Official/Olympic Committee Member
(Physical Education and History, 1971)

Former college basketball captain who represented Northwest Colleges whilst at Chester. Trevor has held a number of important positions at national association level including President of England Basketball 2000 – 2006 and Olympic Committee member from 2003 – 2007, involved in bringing the 2012 Olympic Games to London. An International referee (FIBA) from 1982 – 1999, Trevor is currently a FIBA Technical Commissioner and Chair of BUSA Basketball.
Jo Fletcher, International Women's Football
(MSc Exercise Science and Nutrition, 2005)

Jo played football in the National Premier League for Birmingham City Ladies and also represented England internationally. This included being first choice goalkeeper for the majority of the Euro 2005 Championships which were held in in this country.
Dick Howard, Former International Footballer and Coach
(Physical Education, 1965)

Dick Howard has been involved in many aspects of football as a professional player, coach, administrator and broadcaster in England and North America. He is unique in Canadian soccer as being the first person to have been a National Team player, a member of the coaching staff of the Junior, Youth and World Cup teams and Technical Director of the Canadian Soccer Association from 1986-92.
A familiar figure on the international football scene he is one of a select group of coaches around the world who have been appointed by FIFA to conduct technical courses for national associations and has been involved in over 50 FIFA projects in 30 countries around the world since 1988.
He is the longest serving North American on the FIFA Technical and Development Committee and was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2002.
The 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany was the fifth time that he has worked as a TV analyst covering all the games for the TSN channel. This is in addition to extensive media-related work over the past 25 years that included writing several technical manuals on the game.
Jim Clark, International Rower
(Teaching, 1971)

Jim Clark completed his teacher training certificate in 1971. He rowed whilst at College and then competed in the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Summer Olympics, representing Great Britain as a rower. Jim won three world silver medals and one Olympic silver, then later coached three international teams and some of his school pupils to win Olympic golds.  
Sir Walter Winterbottom, Former England Football Manager (deceased)
(Teaching, 1933)

Sir Walter Winterbottom was the first international manager of the England football team (1946-1962) and FA Director of Coaching. He continued to work with the FA for many years, being knighted for his services to sport when he retired in 1978.
Eddie Lever, Professional Footballer and Manager (deceased)
(Teaching, 1933)

Eddie's footballing career with Portsmouth FC ended prematurely due to injury, however he returned as manager of the club from 1952 to 1958.