Dual career athletes top of the class and out in front

Miriam Zouhou Lifestyle Meeting

Boxer Miriam Zouhou studies at the University of Birmingham

The next generation of England’s sporting heroes are winning on and off the pitch according to the latest research into dual career athletes.

An increasing number of talented youngsters are proving it is possible to combine high-performance sport with academic excellence.

And the results of a year-long study explode the myth that playing sport at the highest level is a natural barrier to topping the class.

TASS supports more than 400 athletes nationwide – encouraging talented sportsmen and women to chase their sporting dreams at the same time as fulfilling their academic potential.

And the Sport England-backed scheme has undertaken its own research in a bid to discover how many young people successfully combine qualifications including A Level studies and university degrees with a commitment to high-performance sport.

The findings are conclusive with more than half of those TASS-supported respondents who took an undergraduate degree achieving a 2:1 classification.

At the same time, three-quarters of those athletes who responded to the TASS survey revealed they had competed at international level in their chosen sport.

Of the 5,000-plus alumni athletes supported by TASS between 2004 and 2017, almost 900 responded to a survey that sought to gain a greater insight into the dual career lifestyle, its various challenges and many benefits.

Danielle Brown, a gold medal-winning archer at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games, conducted the survey. And the former TASS athlete, who graduated with a first-class degree in Law, explained:

“It’s challenging to juggle education with high-level sport and the TASS programme really helps talented athletes achieve this balance.

“I received the support at the beginning of my sports career, whilst I was doing my A Levels. By having access to great facilities, various specialist services and experienced people who can ensure you are getting the support you need to excel in both areas, I was able to focus on my sport and my education.

“It worked for me and the findings of this survey suggest it has worked for many more athletes.”

Brown discovered that 78% of TASS-supported athletes have completed a higher education qualification. And the survey revealed that one in five TASS-supported athletes who took an undergraduate degree course achieved first-class honours.

Guy Taylor, TASS National Director, commissioned the survey with the organisation constantly seeking to improve its offer and better understand the needs and requirements of its supported athletes.

“The findings prove that it is possible to pursue a sporting career at the highest level and achieve a strong academic performance at the same time.

“We are well aware that there is often a small window for athletes to compete at the highest level and those who have recognised qualifications or training are better prepared for life after competitive sport.

“These results suggest that TASS athletes emerge from the scheme as more rounded individuals, well positioned to move into the workplace.”

*The survey results are based on individual responses to a series of questions and have yet to be fact-checked or verified.

Miriam Zouhou Strength Conditioning
TASS athlete Miriam Zouhou benefits from a Strength and Conditioning session