The Swansea Class Full of Olympic Athletes

A group of seven former Olympians is set to be the last students to take on a degree at a Welsh university before the course moves to Belgium.

The course – a master’s in sports ethics and integrity at Swansea University – aims to teach future sports administrators about anti-doping, illegal betting and child protection. 

Media captionOlympian athletes take a Swansea University course

The class of 26 has won two Olympic gold medals, three silvers and a bronze, and one student holds the fifth-longest standing world record in athletics history. 

That man is Kevin Young, a 400m hurdler whose time of 46.78s at the 1992 games in Barcelona has still not been beaten. 

Kevin Young competing at the 1992 US Olympic Trials in New Orleans
Image captionKevin Young competing at the 1992 US Olympic Trials in New Orleans

“I can’t believe that was 27 years ago” he said.

“It seems like yesterday I was standing on the podium and it’s crazy my record has stood for so long.

“As athletes we’re always looking to recreate the buzz of nights like that, and it can be pretty depressing once you’re retired, but this sort of course is – not the same feeling – but a good feeling, being able to give something back to the sports which gave us so much.”

The 1992 gold Kevin Young won in Barcelona
Image captionThe 1992 gold Kevin Young won in Barcelona

He is joined in his class by silver medal-winning swimmer Allison Wagner, Grenadian runner Alleyne Francique, taekwondo artitst Sharon Jewell, Australian luger Hannah Campbell-Pegg, middle-distance runner Nikki Hamblin from New Zealand and five-time Olympian Bosede Kaffo, who represented Nigeria in table tennis five times. 

The course is part of the EU’s Erasmus Mundus scheme and aims to launch the students into “high-level sporting administration and governance careers”. 

Over two years the students will take modules at five partner universities across Europe, but coming to Wales has been a surprise for some of the former athletes, with Mr Young thinking the course was online. 

“I packed in a hurry, I thought to bring my medal to show people, but didn’t think to pack a coat,” he added. 

But despite the downpours he has enjoyed other parts of Welsh culture, namely an early morning trip to the pub to watch Wales beat Australia 29-25 in the Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

Nikki Hamblin (centre) competing at the World Athletics Championships in 2011
Image captionNikki Hamblin (centre) competing at the World Athletics Championships in South Korea in 2011

But there will not be any more Olympians coming to Wales for the course in future years. 

Prof Mike McNamee, who runs the course, said: “With the spectre of hard Brexit on the horizon we have had to negotiate with our partners in Belgium to take over the coordinating role.

“It’s great that I’m still the programme director and based here in Swansea University, but Swansea has had to surrender its lead role, which is a tragedy because we conceived of the entire programme.”

News from The BBC

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