Secret Lives of Lecturers: the Olympian

Secret Lives of Lecturers: the Olympian



A lecturer of physical education at LJMU, Kelly Massey achieved huge success as an elite athlete.

Kelly Massey
Kelly competing in 4 x 400m relay at Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014 © Alamy

The day job:

Kelly Massey is a lecturer in physical education at LJMU.

The secret life:

Kelly achieved tremendous success as a 400 metre runner, winning bronze at the Olympics, silver at the Commonwealth Games and gold at the European Championships.


To anyone who was glued to the television during the Olympic Games in Rio, Kelly's achievements might not be so secret. Taking pride of place in her sufficiently stocked trophy cabinet is the bronze medal that she and her teammates were awarded for the 4 x 400m relay at the 2016 Olympics.

Kelly has always been ambitious, even in her early days as one of the original Sport Scholars at LJMU. She started on the Scholarship programme during her fourth year of study. After graduating she became a PE teaching assistant and upon completing her PGCE in Physical Education, taught the subject in a number of schools in Manchester. Kelly was a fully-funded athlete between 2015 and 2017 but kept her hand in mentoring, coaching and PE-related initiatives during that time. Before retiring from her sport in 2018, she set up her own business mentoring athletes, coaching, delivering workshops and guest speaking. Not content to rest on her laurels, she became a UKAD educator, a trustee with England Athletics and gained media experience interviewing athletes at competitions.

Recently, Kelly has taken on yet another challenge as a lecturer of physical education back where it all started for her – LJMU. We caught up with her to find out about her achievements and what it's like to be back at LJMU.

What is your proudest achievement as an athlete?

“My favourite race of all time has to be my Commonwealth Games 400m semi-final in 2014. On paper I should have never made the final but I qualified automatically with my second personal best of the season.”

How did you benefit from the Sport Scholarship programme?

“As a Sport Scholar I was supported by the strength and conditioning coaches and facilities at LJMU along with physio and nutritional advice. I was also supported with a pot of money which I used towards warm weather training."

As a lecturer, how can your experiences as an elite athlete help develop your students?

“I have had so many experiences as an elite athlete and gained a lot of knowledge which is cross curricula within the Faculty. Being an elite athlete has opened so many doors to get involved in initiatives that are taking place and I can pass on this hands-on knowledge and understanding to the students that I teach and also offer opportunities for them to go out into the field."

“There is a huge sense of community at LJMU. I have been away for over 10 years and it doesn’t feel longer than a day.”

Kelly Massey competing at Rio Olympics

Kelly competing in the 4 x 400m relay at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. © Agência Brasil Fotografias via Creative Commons 2.0

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

“Each lecturer beings their own experience with them and with that often comes opportunities for students to gain knowledge and understanding above and beyond the lecture theatre. Students need to keep their eyes peeled and ask about what else they can get involved in to make them stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs.”

Kelly’s sporting achievements:

  • Olympic Games 2016 bronze – 4 x 400m
  • European Championships 2016 gold – 4 x 400m
  • World Relay Championships 2015 bronze – 4 x 400m
  • European Indoor Championships 2015 silver – 4 x 400m
  • Glasgow International 2015 gold – 400m and 4 x 400m
  • Commonwealth Games 2014 bronze – 4 x 400m, 7th – 400m
  • European Championships 2014 bronze – 4 x 400m
  • Glasgow International 2014 gold – 4 x 400m
  • World Student Games 2011/2007 bronze – 4 x 400m, semi-finalist – 400m
  • European Team Championships 2011 silver – 4 x 400m
  • Commonwealth Games 2010 silver – 4 x 400m, semi-finalist – 400m

Find out what it takes to become a Sport Scholar, take a look a look at the Sport Scholarship programme at LJMU.

Interested in studying PE or similar courses? Take a look at sport-related courses on offer at LJMU.

The Secret Lives of Professors/Lecturers series aims to celebrate the unique lives of the academics who make Liverpool John Moores University an amazing place to study. If you know of a lecturer who has some interesting side projects or great stories to share, please get in touch.


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