Elite athletes training and competing around the world often struggle to study toward a career and life after their competition days have ended.
But an international partnership between Federation University and the World Academy of Sport is making it a little easier.
Fed Uni has been chosen from universities around the globe as the World Academy of Sport's partner to deliver its first distance undergraduate degree in International Sports Management.
Australian 800m runner Peter Bol and table tennis player Milly Tapper, the first Australian athlete to compete at both Olympics and Paralympics, have both juggled study, training and competing at the highest level to ensure they have a career when their sports days come to a close.
Bol used to complete university assignments for his degree in construction management on planes while travelling to training and competitions around the world, while Tapper completed an exercise science degree before pursuing her sport full time, and more recently has completed a diploma of conveyancing around work, training and competition.
Both have felt burnt out and overwhelmed trying to juggle and prioritise their time.
World Academy of Sport managing director Chris Solly said the international sports management degree was aimed at elite athletes who want to pursue a career in the business of sport, and who need to balance studying with training and competition.
"Through offering this degree as a distance program, it will provide flexibility for those looking to achieve this important qualification alongside their existing careers or activities," he said.
"One thing we know is it's not easy to balance what you do and we need to make sure there's opportunity in education and support and being able to balance - and that requires flexibility."
Mr Solly said choosing Fed Uni as a partner came down to its connections to industry and its approach in developing a new course.
Fed Uni vice chancellor Professor Helen Bartlett said the partnership took the university's offerings in sports science and management to a new level and was the culmination of a year of very hard work by many people.
"Federation University's sports science programs and research are world-class and this new partnership demonstrates that," said Federaiton University vice-chancellor Professor Helen Bartlett.
"Through the World Academy of Sport, our new international sports management degree will be offered to elite athletes and those aspiring to a sporting career right around the world."
As part of the partnership, Federation University will also offer three new sports management subjects to secondary school students at 5000 schools around the world through the International Baccalaureate program which will provide a pathway in to the International Sports Management degree.
"It's good to have our commitment and expertise recognised in this partnership. We know elite athletes must dedicate most of their time to training and competition that involves being across many different locations. Balancing study with training is a real challenge in building a professional sporting career which requires ability to translate that knowledge learned during their competition to a full career life cycle," Professor Bartlett said.
The partnership also comes as the university prepares to fully open its $15 million Health and Sports Precinct next year.
Tapper started playing table tennis in primary school and became the first Australian to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics, competing at both events in Rio.
"I was born with brachial plexus in my right shoulder - the nerve between my neck and shoulder was torn so I don't have as much use or function in right arm as I do my left, therefore I qualify in the para-world," she said.
"But growing up I was very determined, persistent and competitive and always believed I'm good enough to compete in the Olympics."
When she started to feel burnt out through training, competing and working she realised she needed to find more balance - and that has become a focus over the past three years particularly while returning to study to complete a diploma of conveyancing.
"I think through sport and being an athlete you learn so many other life skills and how to prioritise and be accountable for everything we choose to do.
"But I found table tennis and everything improved because I had something else I could focus on when I wasn't training and for the mental health side of things it's important to have something outside of sport."
Peter Bol was born in South Sudan and came to Australia when he was young, moving around before settling in Perth and finally coming to Melbourne in the past few years.
He won a scholarship to a private college in Perth for basketball, but at 17 a teacher spotted his athletic ability and encouraged him to run.
"I was a little kid from Africa so running wasn't really a sport. But I want to a private school and athletics was compulsory. I ran one time and came first at school, then went on to championships and came second out of 300 or 400 students," he said.
"The teacher took me aside and said you did so well and don't even do the sport ... and from there it took a while for her to convince me to start athletics because basketball was my passion."
Less than five years later he made the Australian athletics team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, which was also his first international competition.
"I always believe that opportunity is important and opportunity means nothing unless you recognise it - my teacher helped me recognise that," he said.
As the first person in his large family to attend university, Bol felt extra pressure but also had plenty of support, but it was wise words from his mentor that helped him find a balance and look out for signs of stress.
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