Japanese Olympian Yuki Ota highlights challenges of balancing education and elite sport

12 | 4 | 2017

World Olympians Association (WOA) is supporting the World Academy of Sport’s Athlete Friendly Education Centre (AFEC) initiative, a scheme newly set-up to provide support for student-athletes balancing education and training.

Beijing 2008 Silver medallist Yuki Ota spoke at the International Baccalaureate (IB) Asia Pacific Global Conference in Yokohama about his personal experience of managing school education with elite training, shining light upon the need for specialist support to be made available to athletes in the early stages of their careers and the importance, therefore, of the AFEC initiative.

The initiative, which was set up by World Academy of Sport, offers internationally recognised accreditation framework for schools or universities who educate student athletes. Under the scheme, schools are assessed against set criteria such as athlete-friendly policies, facilities and services.

WOA is supporting the initiative, helping with the promotion to education centres, as well as encouraging Olympians to become accredited AFEC Assessors, giving Olympians a chance to nurture future generations of talented student athletes. WOA will continue to work alongside the World Academy of Sport to grow the AFEC initiative and involve National Olympians Associations (NOAs) around the world.

Japan Olympian & AFEC Assessor, Yuki Ota, said:

“As Olympians, we have a duty to look after those who will follow in our footsteps, and that is one of the key reasons why I feel the AFEC initiative is of utmost importance. The challenges of training, travel, competition, recovery and overall health monitoring is tough enough, but coupling this with studying can place immense pressure on anyone, particularly at young ages.

“The AFEC initiative is helping to improve education and training conditions for young athletes across the world by working with schools and educators in particular. As an Olympian I will continue to help and support young talented athletes to plan their academic goals for the long term and ensure they have the best chance of making the next step in their sporting careers. This way they will have the best chance of success as they make an inevitable transition from international competitive sport to future career paths.”

Director of AFEC for the World Academy of Sport, Michael Cary, added:

“When watching elite sport, the unique journey that athletes have made to reach that stage in their career is often overlooked. Balancing school and competition at such a formative period of their lives is incredibly difficult, and the AFEC initiative is already making some great strides to better the standards of schools around the world.

“At World Academy of Sport, we are really excited about what the future holds for the AFEC initiative and we are looking forward to continuing our great relationship with World Olympians Association on this project, encouraging Olympians to share their experience and help better the lives of future stars.”