It’s been a busy year for Olympic medal-winning gymnast Kristian Thomas – who has got married and celebrated a successful first year as a student at the University of Wolverhampton.
The 28-year-old married his partner Gemma in July, and is looking forward for returning to the University’s Walsall Campus in September to begin the second year of his studies.
Kristian, who was captain of the Great Britain’s men’s gymnastics team at Rio 2016, said: “It has been quite exciting and fairly busy juggling my studies, training, competing and a few external things but it’s something I’m glad I decided to do after being out of education for 10 years.
“After the first month at University, where you are meeting people and lecturers and finding out where everything is, you settle down and it all becomes part of your routine. I’ve really enjoyed my first year.
“The hardest thing is making sure I get the balance right - that I’m training at the level I need to be, my grades are where they need to be and my home study is at the right level. Although it was difficult at first, I’ve settled into it quite well, and the University has been really helpful with trying to find that right balance.”
Kristian, who is from Wolverhampton, added that he has benefitted from the University’s facilities in the British Judo Centre of Excellence at Walsall, working with the Team GB Judo team and using the strength and conditioning facilities.
“As a Strength and Conditioning student, I use the British Judo facilities, and as it’s the national centre it’s the best of the best for Judo. As a scholarship student I train in there as well. Beyond that I use the Sports Centre at Walsall, and we do a lot of our testing for the sports science aspects in the performance labs. That’s interesting because as an athlete, you just do the tests as part of your training without asking questions, but now I’m coming at it from the other side and getting to understand the science behind it all.”
Kristian has got involved in the University community, attending Open Days to offer advice to prospective students and Career Development Week which enables students to gain additional experiences to add value to their CVs alongside their academic studies. He also attended the recent Sports Awards, which celebrate the achievements of the University sports teams and individual success.
The gymnast has some words of advice for students following in his footsteps: “The best advice I can give to students is to get involved – whether that is in sports clubs, volunteering opportunities, meeting new people or just talking a bit more to lecturers. There are stacks of opportunities at the University and just have to be brave and put yourself out there to meet new people, set new challenges and work out what you like and don’t like. That has given me the opportunity to develop myself as a professional and also in the area that I want to go into and gain new experiences.”
Kristian Thomas won an Olympic Bronze medal as part of the men’s gymnastics team at London 2012. He was a Silver World Championship medallist in 2015, European Champion on Floor 2015 and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist 2014.
Most recently he was the team captain of the Mens Gymnastics at Rio Olympics 2016.
The BSc (Hons) strength and conditioning course enables students to develop their skills in applying physiology, biomechanics, psychology and aspects of sports medicine to the effective delivery of strength and conditioning sessions for both individual athletes and groups of performers from a variety of sports.