Podium reporter Stuart Appleby interviews Steve Backley, the only British track and field athlete to win medals at three Olympic Games: Barcelona 1992 (bronze), Atlanta 1996 (silver) and Sydney 2000 (silver). The former javelin world record holder discusses his time at Loughborough University and his new book: ‘The Champion in all of us – 12 rules for success‘.
Steve Backley OBE is one of the finest athletes Great Britain has ever produced. Having collected seven major championship gold medals during a career which spanned three decades, he is also a former javelin world record holder and is still the only British track and field competitor to win medals at three Olympic Games: Barcelona 1992 (bronze), Atlanta 1996 (silver) and Sydney 2000 (silver).
He remained one of Team GB’s most consistent and established performers throughout his career in the sport, which began in the late 1980s.
At the same time he enrolled at Loughborough University and studied for a BSc Honours degree in physical education and sports science, while competing regularly for the institution and claiming many records along the way.
Although his international javelin commitments prevented him from completing his studies after his first year at the university, Loughborough later honoured him with the degree of Doctor of Technology honoris causa in 2002.
Backley admitted that combining top level sport and academic studying is difficult, but if it is possible to do then athletes should try their best to take up the opportunity.
“They are two full on things and that there is no doubt. It can be difficult if you have a profile as an athlete and a sport in which you have to train full time. If you then add your studies on top of that it makes three halves, but you can only really do two of them. It worked for a couple of years with me but I found it really tough. However, if you can do it, studying and sport is a wonderful blend.
“My university experience helped me massively. I moved away from home, spread my wings and I had to take responsibility for my own life, where I was meeting new people. It was a great way of growing up and being accountable for my sport as well. Loughborough’s training environment was great and I got to work with some top athletes.”
The former world number one javelin thrower also paid tribute to the Brownlee brothers, who are managing their academic and sporting challenges in pursuit of success at this summer’s London 2012 Games.
“There are a lot of other expectations that the Brownlee brothers will have this summer, should they chose to accept the other expectations (and they do not have to of course) because they are two down to earth guys. They have a lot of respect for other sports and the way they go about their business is pretty impressive.”
Since retiring from athletics after the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Backley now focuses his attention on new business ventures including Steve Backley Communications, corporate motivational speaking, sports commentary and a range of other media and television projects. He is also co-author of The Winning Mind.
Backley was talking to Podium at the launch of his new book: ‘The Champion in all of us – 12 rules for success’, which is a symbolic tale of four athletes and their desire to succeed at the Olympic Games.
You can watch the full video interview with Backley below, where he also discusses the importance of getting people involved at the London 2012 Games and his higher education experiences, as well as providing Podium with an insight as to what goes through the mind of a top performer. He was talking to Stuart Appleby (pictured).
Steve Backley’s book: ‘The Champion in all of us – 12 rules for success’ is available to purchase now and it is published by Mirage Publishing.