'It felt like I was coming home' – Sport Scholar returns to teach at LJMU

'It felt like I was coming home' – Sport Scholar returns to teach at LJMU

Nicola Robinson competes

In 2005, the Sport Scholarship programme at LJMU was still in its infancy. As a modern pentathete studying sport science, Nicola Robinson was one of the first to join the programme. She continued as a Sport Scholar until she finished her PhD in cardiovascular physiology in 2011. She was able to apply the knowledge she acquired at LJMU to the real world in her role as the English Institute of Sport’s lead physiologist for British Para-Swimming, where she accompanied the team to the London 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the World and European Championships. Nicola began lecturing and worked as a sport science manager to elite tournament golfers who were completing degrees themselves. Becoming a mum in 2017 led Nicola to seek out a bit of a lifestyle change. When a role as Programme Leader in BSc Sport Coaching at LJMU came up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity – Nicola returned to where it all began.

We caught up with the former Sport Scholar to find out about her experiences and her current role.

What was it like being a Sport Scholar at LJMU?

“I felt really supported in many areas of sport science and had some amazing mentors. I remember asking the scholarship manager if he could have a word with my accommodation about storing my gun (shooting is part of the modern pentathlon). What we had access to and the support was amazing and you felt integrated into the Sport Scholar team where I have made lifelong friends.”

What do you consider your greatest sporting achievements?

“I competed at several world series modern pentathlon events finishing within the top 25 as a youth and junior, however my proudest moments where winning the Junior Bronze in 2007 in Monte Carlo then retaining Junior World Bronze Medal in South Africa in 2008 and again in 2009 in Monte Carlo. After my pentathlon career, I took up triathlon where I achieved a fourth place in the European Championships in 2011.

“I still compete in biathle and every year I have made the qualifying standards to compete in both European and World Championships. The main thing I enjoy now is the coaching. I set up the North West Biathle Hub officially in 2014, where we now have over 40 members training towards modern pentathlon.”

Nicola Robinson competes

How do your experiences as an elite athlete impact your teaching?

“I have the applied and practical experience of both the mental and physical challenges of being an athlete. I also have an amazing network of athletes and coaches I still keep in touch with. I’m able to tell stories to my students that bring life to theory and practice.”

How can students take advantage of the opportunities open to them?

“There are so many opportunities and sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to get the best experiences. Do not be a sheep – create your own individuality.”

What makes LJMU special?

“When I got the position at LJMU it felt like I was coming home. Even though I’ve only been on staff for a short time, I already have some great memories such as taking ten students to the England Under-19 camp and letting them experience a day in the life of a coach and athlete.”

Our Sport Scholarship scheme is one of the leading initiatives the UK and helps talented students fulfil both their sporting and academic potential. Find out more about the Sport Scholarship programme.

Interested in becoming a sports coach or studying other sport-related courses? Take a look at what sport courses you could study at LJMU.


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