In the 2012 Olympic year, I studied and graduated with a Bachelors in Law at UCL, one of the best universities in the world for Law, whilst that same year jumping the 2012 London Olympic Games’ standard and finishing ranked number 2 in Great Britain that year.
At every step of the way from starting out in athletics as a young teen to now nearing the home straight of my athletics career, I continue to stress the importance of academic achievement.
To the teen-athletes, I want you to know that sport is an incredible arena for you to nurture and grow your unique gifts and talents, but that needn’t be at the expense of your academic education.
I know you may believe that success in sport requires you to have an all-or-nothing lifestyle, but balance is key, especially at a young age.
You can achieve excellence in both sports and academia.
I did. You can too.
In fact, balancing the two allows you to develop skills of focus, commitment and time-management that will continue to benefit you later in life.
Furthermore, if you can balance studies and sport now then even when or if you can transition into full-time sports career, you’ll have opened up opportunities for yourself in the future so that you don’t have to panic about your second career once you’ve finished your sport. After all, due to the high-intensity, physically demanding nature of sport at an elite, high-performance level, the sports’ retirement age generally sits anywhere between 28-35 years of age (few are lucky enough to compete beyond this age). Even if you do stop competing at 40, you still have another 20+ years until retirement. Having a degree or a good college-level education will stand you in good stead for your ‘second’ career.
Still don’t agree?
Check out this article featuring retired Team GB rower and 3-time Olympic champion, James Tomkins – Five reasons why sport and education are a winning combination – Olympic.org