Last year Richard Armstrong graduated with a first class honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science. This year he’s completed his MSc Strength and Conditioning degree with distinction and has been accepted onto a PhD research programme to investigate the neuromuscular adaptations to resistance training. He has just received the Beth Tweddle award from the Olympic gymnast and LJMU Sport Scholar alumna herself. Everything looks to be going Richard’s way now that he’s taken this path, but this wasn’t always his life plan – he’s learned to adapt to changes in circumstances and seize upon opportunities when they are presented.
Until the age of 18, Richard was a competitive swimmer, but a shoulder injury halted his aspirations of becoming an elite athlete. It was this circumstance that led him to develop an interest in sport science and pursue the subject at LJMU. After being selected for a junior internship within the Strength and Conditioning (S&C) department and with the recent introduction of the MSc programme in S&C the same year that he graduated, Richard found his new focus. And now, despite a strong S&C foundation that could lead him to a specialised coaching career, Richard continues to keep his options open:
“If you asked me two years ago what I wanted to do I would be saying ‘an S&C coach working towards Tokyo 2020’. However, I now feel that I should be doing both applied work and research. Hence why I have gone on to study a PhD whilst also continuing to integrate myself with the LJMU S&C department. Who knows what the future will hold.”
Richard’s open-mindedness and his ability to adapt to new experiences are enviable qualities. His approach shows that you don’t always need to have everything mapped out when it comes to your studies or career plans. Sometimes life can present opportunities you weren’t expecting and take you along a different path.
“Without a doubt the most rewarding thing about studying at LJMU is the opportunities that present themselves. Through my undergraduate studies, I got my first exposure of working hands on with athletes. Since then I have been able to work with athletes competing at international events, as well as being able to work at GB Paralympic Cycling for four months. I would never have had these opportunities if I did not attend LJMU.”
Richard is looking forward to his next challenge of pursuing a PhD and has a grounded approach.
“I’m sure I’ll face many challenges over the next three years. However, for me, it is important that I maintain a healthy view on things, giving myself the time to relax each day to avoid stress. This should help keep me focused, so that when big challenges do arise I will be able to deal with them.”
If Richard’s story has inspired you, why not find out what you could study at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences?
Watch the video of Beth Tweddle talking about her experiences with strength and conditioning.