Jack Beaumont is a British rower who represented Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This is part 2 of his exclusive interview with Ashwyn Lall, founder of Ash’s Sports Talk. Jack shares his journey to the Olympic final, his views on planning for life after sport, developing a positive mindset, and his views on showcasing rowing as a sport for everybody. Parts of the interview have been edited for reading comfort. (Read part 1 of his interview here).
Part 2 – Jack getting started on his personal Plan B
Ashwyn Lall: As well as a prestigious sporting career, you also have an undergraduate degree in Criminology from Birkbeck, University of London. Where did the inspiration come from to study in higher education?
Jack Beaumont: My school really supported high performance sport, and also strongly encouraged us to have a ‘Plan B’. One of the teachers used an analogy that elite sport was a mountain, and the peak of the mountain is your pinnacle. You work so hard climbing the mountain, but you have to have a plan of how you will come down the mountain afterwards. In context, you have got to plan for your life after sport.
I saw getting a degree as an opportunity to develop transferable skills. Being a semi-professional athlete at the time, part funded by the National Lottery, I was still working part time alongside my training. In order to get a degree as well, I had to look at options for part time study. Birkbeck was great for me, as they teach between 6 and 9 in the evening. Studying there allowed me to fit in all of the things that were important to me, even if it did mean long days of leaving the house at 7am for training, and not returning until 11pm after uni!
What influenced you to study criminology and does any of what you learned help you in your rowing career?
In terms of criminology, it happened to be a subject that was a perfect fit for my schedule. I had planned to study Biology, but with my full-time training and part time work, I didn’t have time for all of the time I would have to spend in a lab. Criminology had a lot more self-study that I could do at home and being on training camps was less of an issue. Before I started criminology, I did not have any massive passion for the subject, I was interested, but doing the course was a means to an end. However, I found that as I completed the course, I developed a real passion for it. I was especially interested in drug laws, and the policy which surrounds them. The other area which I focussed on was prison reform.
The course does not necessarily enhance my knowledge around rowing. But it did give me something else in life to focus on away from my primary responsibility. It is essential to have different focuses to ensure your mind has a healthy balance which is crucial for anyone.
While you have committed so much time to becoming a professional athlete, how important is it for you to think about alternative options to pursue after a life of professional sport?
It is fundamental to have a Plan B as we are not always in control of our lives. An example being my injury as I was remarkably close to never rowing again. At that moment, I was happy that I had something else to focus on in my life. I am not saying you should not put 100% into your sport, but it is important that athletes develop other parts of their life as well. We are more than just our sporting results.
Learn about Jack’s epic journey to the Rio 2016 Olympics in part 3 of this exclusive interview to be published next Saturday …
(First published at https://ashsportstalk.org/. Parts of the interview have been edited for reading comfort.)