It’s going to be a very busy year for Olympic bronze medal winning rower Alan Campbell.
He is currently in training for the 2016 games and simultaneously studying for his finals in Leadership and Management (BA) with The Open University.
Here, he speaks exclusively with Coleraine Times to discuss balancing his career with his degree and pursuing his passions after the Olympics.
“As an athlete, there is a time when you will become too tired and can no longer compete,” he said.
“I’ve always known this and whilst I love rowing, and have been proud to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland in three Olympics, I always knew that there had to be something outside of sport for me and that I needed to have other personal passions to pursue.
“It was my coach Bill Barry, a businessman and Olympic silver medallist from 1964, who encouraged me to pursue further study. I didn’t finish my first degree in Engineering; it wasn’t the right time for me to study and my focus was on becoming a leading athlete, not an Engineer.
“However, when my sporting career ends I wanted to be equipped with the necessary skills to explore a new career path.
“As an athlete I could never have gone to a traditional, campus-based university. With the OU I can study wherever I am – be that at home with my wife and daughter or at the training ground with the rest of the team.
“The flexibility that The Open University provides is another advantage that has been a real help throughout my studies. Tutors have been understanding and supportive when I’ve asked for extensions and always on hand to answer any questions I have.
“As many of the tutors still work in industry the guidance they have given me has always been relevant and easy to apply to practical business challenges.
“This is another big difference with the OU – you have the academics who are dedicated to their research but you get the tutors too who are still active in their field.”