England's Richard Smith model case for balancing sport and study

Delegates at an international conference at Loughborough have been finding out how the university is supporting elite athletes to combine sporting achievement, along with a business career or studying for a degree.

The project Athletes to Business deals with reconciling top-level sporting achievement with education and a career. The European Olympic Committee is undertaking a number of visits, and will make a set of recommendations which hope to improve provision across Europe.

Richard Smith celebrates scoring a goal for England against the Netherlands at the ABN AMRO Champions Trophy, December 2009How to successfully manage a dual career can be illustrated in the case of Loughborough University graduate and England & Great Britain hockey international Richard Smith (pictured).

This year Richard helped England to win a silver medal in the Champions Trophy, and played in a World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.  He also scored on his Great Britain debut, playing against Argentina this month.

During this period Richard has also been studying for an MSc in Business Analysis and Management. While he was developing as a player he also successfully completed an undergraduate degree in Maths & Sports Science, achieving a 2.1.

A number of key factors put in place by the university are helping Richard achieve in his studies and on the hockey pitch. These include receiving a 2012 scholarship, flexible study offered to elite level athletes, and work experience opportunities within the university and with top companies through his Performance LifestyleTM support from the English Institute of Sport (EIS).

As an elite athlete Richard accesses support from the English Institute of Sport (EIS). The EIS High Performance Centre based at the university provides a full range of support services including physiology, physiotherapy, medicine, strength and conditioning and Performance LifestyleTM, which looks after the personal and professional development of all athletes on World Class Programmes.

Richard Smith in action for Great Britain men against Argentina, November 2010Speaking of combining a dual career Richard Smith said:
“My student and sporting experience at Loughborough has been of the highest calibre. My undergraduate degree offered me the opportunity to shape my career using my maths and problem solving skills, but also continue my interest in sport. Now I am doing an MSc in Business Analysis & Management and getting opportunities to utilise my learning with work experience that I have undertaken in the sports and business sectors.

“On the sporting front, the hockey facilities are superb and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Being involved with the Loughborough hockey set up has been brilliant: they put so much on for you, not just training on the pitch, but gym sessions and physio support as well.

"Loughborough has not only given me the opportunity to develop my academic career and work opportunities, they have also supported my sporting ambitions to play for Team GB in the London 2012 Olympic Games.”

Not only has Richard benefitted from his time at Loughborough, but in return he regularly gives something back to the university.  This includes being a performance sport mentor, supporting new students across different sports on how they in turn can combine a dual career.

The Athletes to Business project runs from January 2010 until March 2011. The event was the fourth study visit made by partners form the project, following trips to Berlin, Helsinki and Vienna. 

Full information about the project and study visits can be found at www.athletestobusiness.eu

Source: Loughborough University Press Release