What's up: University Sport great for Dual Careers
Usually, everyone says university is the door to the world, and for sports it can be the same. Especially in a country where it is almost impossible to be a professional in sport that it isn’t football, university can be the way/time to dedicate yourself to sport.
Instead of aiming to do the course in the regular time, if you want to be a top athlete you can choose to spend most of your time in sports and it the time between trainings and competitions do a course in a two or three years more than other students. This is basically what happened to me… But in my case I had the best of luck which I’ll try to explain. But let me introduce myself first.
My name is Rui Bragança, I’m 24 years old, I come from Guimarães, Portugal. I’m in the 5th year of Medicine in the University of Minho and I have been practicing taekwondo for 11 years now. I’m qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and I’ve been Vice world Champion, European Champion and Gold in the European Games. Currently I’m number 3 in the Olympic ranking and 2nd in the world ranking. In university competitions I have one gold, two silvers and one bronze in Europeans, two 5th places in Worlds and one silver and one 5th in Universiades.
Getting there can work for everyone, but if you have some “luck” like me, it is a lot easier.
First, I had amazing parents that helped and supported me all along the way. I chose to do medicine, but they always told me I could be whatever I wanted, whatever made me happy so there was no pressure to start with. And then, even after I chose the course, my mom would always tell me “I want you to be a doctor, not a patient” so I wouldn’t feel the need to rush things or try to do everything at the same time and fail at all. And I know this is really lucky because in the society that we live, with all the crisis, unemployment etc, there is a pressure from of parents for their children to finish university as soon as possible, start working and making a living for themselves.
Second, I chose a university that gave me all the conditions to practice Taekwondo. Even though they do not have any sports course, the facilities for students to do sports are amazing. This can also be seen by the 1st place in the EUSA ranking in 2015. On top of that, they offered us a taekwondo room to train at anytime and how many times we wanted and room in the residency so we could live near and not lose that much time. They also have a “TUTORUM” program to help student-athletes conciliating studies and sports with a teacher who is in charge to make the bridge between the rest of the school and the athlete regarding exams, classes etc.
Third and last, the university was near my hometown so my coach and training partners, which have been the same since I started, stayed with me and I didn’t need to have major changes in the way we trained.
Basically, I think these were the 3 major reasons that took me to where I am. But even for those who are not or do not want to be at this level, university sports are a way to have competitive tournamentsgames and at the same time a very relaxed environment where you can meet a lot of new people from all over the world and have some of the best days of your life while you do the sport you like.
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