Podium reporter Stuart Appleby interviews one of Great Britain’s most decorated athletes of all time, Jonathan Edwards CBE. The former triple jumper and current world record holder won Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World championship gold medals during a glittering 15-year career.
Triple jump gold medallist and world record holder Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards’ Higher Education experiences set him on his way to medal success
Jonathan Edwards CBE is one of Great Britain’s most decorated athletes of all time. The former triple jumper and current world record holder won Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World championship gold medals during a glittering 15-year career.
Edwards made the decision to pursue a career in triple jumping at the top level when he was a physics undergraduate at Durham University. The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games gold medallist revealed that his time at university influenced the direction in which he wanted his career to go in.
“When I started my university education I never thought that I was going to become a triple jumper at the highest level. I was doing well academically, working hard and thought I would pursue a decent career in physics by the end of it.
“I competed regularly at university and I eventually decided that if I did not make the most of my sporting talent now then I would never get another opportunity.”
The 45-year-old, who is now an accomplished broadcaster and motivational speaker, believed that the University’s sports facilities helped him enormously.
“Durham’s sports facilities at the time enabled me to train in the right environment as an athlete. I was also able to use the Gateshead International Stadium and that gave me a great opportunity to work at a world-class sporting facility.
“I met a coach when I first started training there and it was the start of a transition point between deciding that I wanted to pursue a career as a triple jumper, rather than do a normal job.”
After graduating from university in 1987, Edwards went from strength to strength as an athlete, winning medal after medal and breaking numerous records along the way.
Today, he is a member of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and is heavily involved in the build up to this summer’s events. However, from his experience as an athlete, Edwards underlined how important it is that today’s athletes get the opportunity to both compete and study.
“The opportunities are out there for talented sportsmen and women to receive a good education at the same time and it is very beneficial as there is no guarantee that you will be successful as an athlete. Very few people can earn a living from sport and I feel if you have an education to fall back on then so much the better.”
The Windsor-born athlete’s achievements in sport were recognised by Durham University in 2009 as he received an Honorary Doctorate and he declared that university sport is a great way to nurture young talent, but it can be difficult to combine studying and competing.
“It is an immense privilege to be connected with the university and it is great to pass on some insight to aspiring athletes. It can be tough to do both and when I was an athlete my mind was taken up 24/7 trying to think about how good I could be as a sportsman. It is a big challenge, but equally it is a wise choice of action because the sporting world can be a very uncertain one.”
Edwards was talking to Podium reporter Stuart Appleby (pictured) at the launch of a series of arts and cultural events taking place in the West Midlands as part of the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad. The Deputy Chairman of London 2012’s Nations and Regions Group met individuals from the region who have been inspired by the Games and they included: Team Staffordshire, Games Makers, Local Leaders and athletes.