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Living the Olympic dream

Middlesex saw the potential in me. This gave me confidence in myself and really helped me take the steps to becoming a professional.

Lutalo Muhammad

Taekwondo champion and Olympic medallist Lutalo Muhammad developed his confidence, drive and skill while studying for a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science at Middlesex.

"It felt like I'd hit the jackpot finding a university like Middlesex. I was fortunate enough to have very supportive people around me. They understood the sport I was involved in and my ambition to get to the Olympics. It meant I could have the perfect balance of a good education and a serious sporting career.

“I want to give a big shout out to Stella Sipple, Deputy Head of Sport and Recreation. Without her, I doubt I would have got close to getting my degree. Stella and all my lecturers were great at being flexible about my schedule and making sure I could fit my studies around my training. As well as the academic side of things, they helped me tremendously with my fitness. I first did elite strength conditioning training with Anthony Turner, Professor in Strength and Conditioning, in the Middlesex gym.

“Middlesex saw the potential in me. This gave me confidence in myself and really helped me take the steps to becoming a professional.”

Living my wildest dreams

“My Olympic dream started when I was about nine years old. Taekwondo had just become an official Olympic sport. My dad leaned over to me and said, 'You could do this one day, you could be a champion'. I agreed, perhaps not realising the monumental life decision I'd just made!

“I'd first got into taekwondo through my dad. He's a martial artist himself and I still have vague memories of learning to kick the furniture when I was about three. I'm very blessed to have two great parents who were happy to facilitate their eldest son's wildest dreams. Thankfully it paid off, with great dividends.

“Winning my first gold medal at the 2012 European Taekwondo Championships was amazing. It was crucial to my development because once you've established yourself as one of the best in the world, there's no going back.”

The Olympics was sensational

“Being able to go to the London Olympic games, right by where I grew up, and achieving a medal there – well that was just crazy. The crowd and atmosphere were sensational. The camaraderie of the Olympic Village is indescribable. It was an unbelievable feeling to walk around and see the likes of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford, to be among that calibre of athlete, and to be able to add to the GB medal tally.

“Nothing can prepare you for an Olympics. I'm blessed to have taken part in two, most recently winning Silver in Rio in 2016. I consider myself to be part of an extremely exclusive and lucky group to have done this.

“My advice to Middlesex upcoming sports stars is make use of the support you have there. You have a great opportunity. You only get one chance at a sporting career, so anything the university can do to help facilitate you, don't be afraid to ask. I was extremely well looked after and I'd recommend Middlesex to anyone."

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