College balances studies and Olympic dreams
Australian College of Physical Education course convenor Brad Royall knows all too well the difficulties some students face trying to balance studies with their elite sporting careers.
The former athlete turned coach and now ACPE lecturer was once a HSC student who also played high-end rugby and made the Australian Olympic training squad in swimming for the Montreal Games.
Now Brad, who has been at the College for four years and is the coaching and administration course convenor, has helped Australian swimmer Jayden Hadler, 18, balance his rigorous training regime with qualifying for the Olympic Games in London and his studies for his Bachelor of Sports Coaching and Administration at ACPE.
Brad said Jayden had made the decision to defer his studies until after the Games.
“I would suggest that he’s getting first things first and that’s to do well at these Games but maybe going to a second Games and see how far he can go,” he said.
“He’s putting a ‘plan B’ in place where he gets some academic qualifications that facilitates opportunity for him in another direction. He may go into coaching or sports administration.
“We support what the student is looking at doing. We are sympathetic in what they are trying to achieve.
“We are an institution that understands what is required of elite level sportsmen while also understanding people interested in PE sport or in dance.
“I wish I had been given a bit of advice, like Jayden, to focus in. I was trying to spread myself too thinly. It was a very difficult ask and both things suffered.”
In the mid-1970s Brad was ranked number one in Australia for his age in the 100m and 200m breaststroke but narrowly missed out on competing on the international stage.
Since then, he has spent 20 years in teaching and 10 years in professional coaching; as head coach of the Waratah Rugby Academy in High Performance Division of NSW Rugby Union, NSW U/21s, first grade coach of West Harbour, Parramatta, Illawarra and general manager at Gordon Rugby Football Club.
ACPE is home to numerous Olympians, from the likes of race walker Beki Lee, swimmer James Magnussen and taekwondo competitor Safwan Khalil.
And, of course, there’s Jayden.
Jayden’s performance at the 2012 Australian Swimming Championships secured him a spot in both the men’s 100m butterfly and the 200m individual medley at the Games.
“At any one stage we have got five or six summer Olympic students here and maybe three or four winter Olympic students,” Brad said.
“It’s an absolute buzz to see young people getting in there and competing against the best like Jayden will be doing.”