Student Dom Parsons selected for Sochi

Our student Dom Parsons has just been named in a four-strong GB skeleton team to compete at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Dom is studying for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, where he is carrying out research on developing a new generation of more powerful, more efficient car engines. It was as an undergraduate at Bath six years ago that he took up the sport of skeleton, in which he will now represent Great Britain at Sochi.

“Sochi has been my goal for so long that I'm very relieved to have been selected, and excited about the opportunity to represent Team GB at the Winter Olympics,” he said. “My performances during the season have shown that I have the ability to be up there in the medal zone, so my aim over the next few weeks is to make sure I have the best preparation so that I can produce my best performance when it counts."

British Skeleton has its headquarters at the University and athletes use some of the facilities at our Sports Training Village, including the push-start track.

Parsons is joined in the four-strong skeleton squad for Sochi by world number one woman Lizzy Yarnold, who also does some of her training at Bath. University graduate Shelley Rudman, the reigning world champion and Turin 2006 silver medallist, and Kristan Bromley, who competes at his fourth successive Olympic Winter Games, are also selected for Team GB.

Nigel Laughton Team GB Skeleton Team Leader and Skeleton Performance Director said: “I am delighted that we have such a strong skeleton squad representing Team GB at the Olympic Winter Games. Collectively, our season has been excellent, with medals and top-six results at every World Cup, and hence the athletes will arrive in Sochi ready, prepared and confident ahead of this exhilarating competition."

Dom has temporarily put the brakes on his work on an innovative mechanical engineering research project in order to compete at Sochi. But he knows he’s got something exciting awaiting him on his return, when he resumes work on an innovative project at the world-leading Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre in our Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Parsons is working on an extension to the successful Ultraboost research programme, a £5.2 million project funded by the Technology Strategy Board and led by Jaguar Land Rover to develop a next generation 2L petrol engine capable of achieving the performance characteristics of a 4.2L V8 engine, with a 35 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.

With the main programme successfully completed, Parsons’ PhD research involves investigating in greater detail the chemistry of the combustion happening inside the engine and examining how it can be further improved – a process that could yield substantial benefits to motorists.

“Dom is at the top of his game in two completely different fields,” said Dr Chris Brace, Deputy Director of the Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre at the University of Bath, who oversees the research.

“There are no other universities in the UK that could do this kind of work, so he is involved in some really ground-breaking research. There’s a lot more we need to understand about the way combustion happens and what we can do to improve it.

“We’re pushing the boundaries a bit. We know there’s more potential there,” he added. “Dom is calm and well-organised and nothing really fazes him.”

Dom, who receives National Lottery funding from UK Sport and is a Santander Sports Scholar, is putting the same detailed methodical attitude that helped him earn a first class Mechanical Engineering degree at the University to good use on the skeleton track too.

“I enjoy the feeling of going into races, the nerves and anxiety feel really positive. I take an approach that’s very similar to engineering. I analyse tracks very carefully and try to identify what would work well and what would hopefully make me quicker than everyone else.”

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