I became a BU Sports Scholar in September 2015. I knew a considerable challenge lay ahead of me; to successfully balance my time between studying for a degree in Nutrition while training and competing at international level in table tennis.
I quickly realised in my first year that in order to keep up with the volume of assignments, research and studying, I needed to apply the same discipline (and dedication) I was used to in table tennis training. Good diary management was an essential skill; procrastination wasn’t an option.
With careful planning and continued support from my tutors and SportBU, I managed to successfully juggle my studies with the many table tennis matches and training sessions. My table tennis commitments included; Swedish league matches which are scheduled every few weeks from September to May, the BUCS league from October to March, training privately up to 5 times a week and every Friday with the BU team, plus the commitments of the BU Scholar programme which included Strength & Conditioning training.
Being a Sports Scholar is a challenge but I coped with the workload by being disciplined. As soon as assignments were set, I quickly got to work. The tutors at BU were very supportive and extensions on deadlines were made available if needed, but, as I believed in being organised, I managed to complete my work on time. During my second year, I also learnt Mandarin in order to prepare for my forthcoming training in China for 6 months.
The Commonwealth Games 2018, which was my ultimate sporting goal, fell in what should have been my final year at BU. I realised from the previous two years of juggling the demands of study and sport that I would be unable to train full time (which I needed to do to have any chance of being selected). I decided, after discussion with my tutors, to defer my final year at BU in order to give myself the best chance of succeeding in both my studies and selection to compete for Wales in the Commonwealth Games.
I took a gamble in taking a year out of BU as I didn’t know if I would be selected for Team Wales. In September 2017, I moved to China for my six months of training and in January 2018, I was overjoyed to find out that I had been selected to represent Wales.
I returned to complete my final year at BU in September 2018. I knew that I had to give priority to my studies in order to graduate and it paid off – I achieved a 2:1 in my degree. During my final year, I continued to play for TeamBU in the BUCS league and after being runner–up twice in previous years, 2018-19 was our time to win both the BUCS league and the BUCS Trophy cup.
Being a Sports Scholar brings some challenges but even more rewards. There is no substitute for hard work and commitment to ensure success in sport or studies, but it is undeniably worthwhile and achievable with the support network provided by SportBU.