Oxford University is to name the first phase of its new sports centre at Iffley Road after Olympic rower and scholar Dr Acer Nethercott.
Dr Nethercott, who died two years ago today aged 35, coxed three Oxford crews to victory in the Boat Race (the women’s boat in 2000 and the men’s boat in 2003 and 2005) and won an Olympic silver medal and two World Championship bronze medals as a cox for Great Britain. As an Oxford student he also received a first class undergraduate degree in Physics and Philosophy and completed a doctorate in the philosophy of language.
The Acer Nethercott Sports Hall will be the first building planned in the redevelopment of the University’s Iffley Road Sports Complex, which is also home to the running track on which Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954.
Glynis Evans, Dr Nethercott's mother, said: 'The idea of naming the new Sports Centre building after Acer is awesome (to use a word that he himself would have used). It is a source of comfort, as well as one of huge pride, to continue to hear of Acer's lasting impact and I am deeply touched that the new Sports Centre will be named after him.'
Andrew Triggs-Hodge, a friend and rowing teammate of Dr Nethercott for Oxford and Great Britain, said: 'Acer always strove hard no matter what he was aiming for. Consequently he succeeded on many levels, personal, academic and sporting. I knew him through his endeavour to be the best cox he could be, a restless mission of self-improvement. He was respected for his work ethic, admired for his skills, and loved for his humanity. Always an open ear, or guiding light. He brought out the best in those around him, who in turn helped him to get the best from himself. A true role model sportsman.
'His challenge for London 2012 was taken from him, to be replaced so cruelly by his final challenge for survival. He’ll never receive the recognition for the work he put into London 2012, or what should have been. He’ll never be able to reflect on the camaraderie he worked so hard for, nor the glory it produced. However through the gifts towards the Acer Nethercott Sports Hall he will be remembered, an inspiration and role model. He will continue to be a guiding light, the role he felt was most rewarding.'
Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: 'We are delighted to name our new sports centre building after Acer Nethercott. Acer was the model of a ‘scholar-athlete’ as he not only achieved incredible sporting success but also excelled in his studies at Oxford, gaining a first and a doctorate in the philosophy of language.'
The Acer Nethercott Sports Hall will be the first phase in the £60 million redevelopment of Oxford University’s Iffley Road sports complex, which would increase the available space for more than 80 sports club and members of the local community. Subsequent phases of the project will include an indoor tennis centre, a combined rugby and rowing training centre, and a new grandstand incorporating a cricket school. Building work will begin after the University has raised the necessary funds. It is hoped the building will be completed next year.