England’s rugby head coach and stars of the Carlisle United Ladies are supporting the opening of new University of Cumbria ‘performance testing’ facilities.

Available for all athletes, the uni’s sports team welcomed Carlisle United Ladies manager Tracy Gannon and player Chelsea Norris to officially open the unit.

Chelsea is an alumnus of the university, graduating in 2017 with a BA Sport Coaching and Development degree, while university sports rehabilitation lecturer Xavier Smith is a member of the strength and conditioning team at the club. 

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: L-R: Kathryn Wain, Tracy Gannon, Xavier Smith, Chelsea NorrisL-R: Kathryn Wain, Tracy Gannon, Xavier Smith, Chelsea Norris (Image: UoC)

Tracy said: “Being closely linked with a professional football club we know how important this area is to athletes who have to test themselves to the highest levels every week, with more and more importance being placed on the science, technology and data within this sphere.”

Carlisle-born England rugby head coach Steve Borthwick, an honorary of the university, is currently in France for the Rugby World Cup.

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: Stephen BorthwickStephen Borthwick (Image: Getty)

Before the tournament, he sent his support via a testimonial: “As a coach, it is essential that athletes have access to the best resources and critical data to enable them to give their best.

“The introduction of the new performance testing unit, alongside the sports injury clinic at the university’s Lancaster campus, will help raise the standard of sport and promote better health to sport participants.

“I look forward to being able to visit the new unit when my coaching schedule permits.”  

Steve also donated a shirt that is on display in the Lancaster unit.  

The new unit and improvements to its existing and long-established sports injury clinic, together with conditioning facilities that seek to prevent problems, increase the experiential learning opportunities and placements on offer to the university's sport, exercise, coaching and rehabilitation students to work with athletes and members of the public. 

The university’s facilities can be made available to professional athletes and sporting organisations from across the region.  

New specialist equipment used in the treatment of injuries to bone and tissue will penetrate the body much deeper than other forms of treatment, improving healing and the time span of an injury.  


Kathryn Wain, principal lecturer in sport at the university, said: “Whilst this is for our teaching and to provide more experiential learning opportunities for our students, this is also to help our local community athletes, our sports clubs and organisations gain access to services that they don’t do usually.

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: Kathryn WainKathryn Wain (Image: UoC)

“We want to ensure it enables greater partnerships with clubs and athletes, to raise the standard of sport and promote better health to all sport participants.”