“It’s never too late to get back into something you love.”
While training to make the GB Olympic athletics team is tough, try doing it with a day job as a professional lawyer. I’m indecisive in many aspects of my life and with two careers I guess that shows. I was really into athletics when I was younger but after injuries, I decided to take a time-out and support from the sidelines. I have a real passion for sport and competition, so I stayed actively involved with my club as a volunteer and held various roles. When it came to academics, I never knew what to answer when the dreaded question came around: ‘what do you want to do with your life?’ But during my A levels, Law was the course I most enjoyed, so I began applying at various universities and took the first step along the path that led me to where I am today.
My love for athletics never left me; I always knew I’d make a competitive comeback one day. That’s why I chose Sheffield University as the starting point for my career in law; they have brilliant facilities for athletics. As a distraction from my exams, I made my homecoming to the sport in my final year and began pursuing not only my post-graduate legal practice course but a professional athletics career. Aside from my success on the track, one of my biggest achievements was starting my professional career at Tapestry Compliance LLP. This role was a new challenge for me in an area of law that I hadn’t come across before. Since working there, the partners have been more supportive of my athletic ambitions than I could ever imagine. They have given me the flexibility and help I need to double major in my dreams – to take my career to the next level and compete in the Olympic games.
It takes a lot to cope with the pressure of competing. You really put yourself out there on the track; when you’re at the starting line, you realise what you’ve given up getting there. All eyes on you, you have 11 seconds to perform – 11 seconds that truly count – and you’ve got to give it your everything. While this is an individual sport, you’re never running alone. Whether it’s your training group, coach, family, colleagues or athletics club, there’s a support system around you, spurring you on to that gold medal. There is also a true sense of community in sport, which is something I got to see firsthand as a volunteer. From the officials who kindly give up their time to turn up almost every weekend, the coaches who devote their lives to ensuring you reach your potential, down to the athletes that you compete with, we are all one big family and have mutual respect for what we all do.
Work-life balance? I live a repeat cycle of work, training, sleep. My schedule is rigid and has minimal wriggle room for social commitments or to see my friends and family who are dotted around the country. My professional legal training and associated commitments dictate my every decision, from the alarm I set to wake up to what I should have for tea. Aside from rest-day Saturdays, my coach allocates 2 weeks to recover and relax at the end of the season towards the end of August where I can take a well-deserved holiday to drink wine and eat chocolate to my heart’s content. It’s not a journey most people would be crazy enough to take, but when I look back on how far I’ve come, it’s worth it.
Since my athletics homecoming, I’ve had 6 England call-ups and won 5 national medals. My ultimate dream is to add an Olympic medal to that one day.
To get the best out of yourself, you have to work hard; this applies to everything. While there may be ups and downs, there are always positives and lessons to be learnt. It may be scary at times, but the fear of wasted potential is greater and has actually become my biggest motivator. I don’t want to look back and say, ‘I could have been at the Olympics if only... (insert excuse here).’ It’s all or nothing. You have to give it 100% every day and not let anything get in the way of that.
Rebecca Campsall / Full time lawyer, full time Olympic hopeful, Citizen of Sport
Citizens of Sport don’t stand by, they Rise Up.
Question: Does your profession allow you to fulfill your passion for sport?