It was a video game that attracted Carl Langan-Evans to the sport of taekwondo. The game: Tekken. “I’m probably one of the only people in the world who got into a high performance sport by being lazy and playing video games. I played a lot of sports, I didn’t really find one I had an affinity for so I started playing video games and realised I was quite good. I thought, 'I'll give this a go'.”
To say he discovered he had a natural talent for the sport off-screen as well, is an understatement. During his time as a Sport Scholar at LJMU he achieved a gold medal at the Junior Olympic Games and despite his early retirement from taekwondo, he has played a pivotal role coaching a number of athletes to success.
Upon completing his Sport Scholarship and achieving a BA in Business Studies at LJMU, he returned to the University to take up an MRes in Sport and Exercise Physiology alongside a place on the Strength and Conditioning Internship Programme. Following his masters, Carl wisely chose to become professionally accredited via the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA), this along with his years of experience, qualifications and enthusiasm led him to his current role as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and Sport Science Support Officer at the university that has seen him achieve so much.
These days, Carl is responsible for managing the huge numbers of athletes that come through the doors hoping to improve their performance, including Sport Scholars. He also teaches modules on the Sport and Exercise BSc and the Sport Nutrition MSc programmes, manages the gym facilities and the coaching that takes place within it, runs the Strength and Conditioning Internship Programme and takes part in public engagement activities to raise the profile of the School. If he wasn’t busy enough, he’s also pursuing a PhD in weight making in taekwondo and combat sports, for which the BBC are showing an interest for a potential series.
We caught up with Carl to find out more about his current role and how he’s helping others achieve their goals.
What do you consider your greatest sporting achievement?
“As an athlete, I’m proud of winning gold for Great Britain in the Junior Olympics for taekwondo. I’m also proud of having coached teams in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. More recently, I’ve been excited to be involved in some fantastic public engagement activities alongside BBC Sport, which have had huge social media engagement, the Anthony Joshua challenge had over two million views and the Mo Farah challenge had over 18 million views.”
Do your experiences being a Sport Scholar influence your role at LJMU?
“I think because I’ve gone through the Sport Scholar programme myself I can give a level of understanding to current Sport Scholars. I understand about time management, managing an academic schedule, peaks and troughs of training, etc. I’ve been there and done that, I’ve had to manage academic, personal and athletic interests in the same way that they will be. So rather than just coming in and being a coach, I can take into account the unique life of a Sport Scholar.”
And how does your background as an elite athlete benefit the students and athletes you work with?
“Because I appreciate the value of sport science to performance, I’m able to put into place how we can help athletes improve. So we can bring in best practice, things like injury prevention, strength and conditioning, psychology, sports nutrition and other ways that sport science can help make an impact on an athlete. We look at where they are now and where they want to be; matching goals and expectations.”
What do you like best about LJMU?
“I’ve been a student, coach and staff member at LJMU for 14 years. The opportunities and the things it has afforded me, the things I’ve engaged with, have been so rewarding. When I did business studies, in my sandwich year I engaged with the Centre for Entrepreneurship and was given a grant to start a business – that was how I spent my one year placement. That was brilliant. The Sport Scholarship programme was also brilliant. It was just amazing to be able to do that in tandem with studying. Mainly, the best part of LJMU for me is the people here – they go above and beyond. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the staff that supported me in my career.”
“To be here doing a PhD, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach in the number one ranked sport science department in the country is…wow, what a privilege.”
How can students make the most of their time at LJMU?
“Go and see your lecturers and mentors as often as you can – it doesn’t have to be a tutorial, it doesn’t have to be formal. Go and have a coffee, send them an email. Opportunities that come up – take them, even if it’s not a discipline you might be interested in, go and find out about it. You might find something you love. LJMU gives you the tick on the CV but you need to ask what you are going to do for that extra mile – find a way to stand out.”
Find out what it takes to become a Sports Scholar, take a look a look at the Sports Scholarship programme at LJMU.
Want to learn more about strength and conditioning? Take a look at our S&C feature. If you're interested in studying sport science, take a look at the courses on offer at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.