Olympic Medallist Storm Uru's successful transition to a career after sport
A lifelong rower, Storm Uru has crossed his fair share of finish lines. But there was always one he was reluctant to approach: that of his professional sports career.
Even when competing at two Olympic Games, winning bronze at London 2012 and a World Championship in 2009 in the Men's lightweight double sculls with Peter Taylor, the question remained in the back of his mind: Having devoted his life to the pursuit of his sport, what would he do when it was finally time to leave rowing behind?
Fortunately for Uru he had the foresight to start planning early for his exit from the sport. This made the transition far less daunting than it would otherwise have been.
“Initially after I finished rowing in London, I had a sense of emptiness,” Uru says. “I didn’t like the idea of coming out of rowing and having nothing. That scared me. The fact that I started preparing for life after rowing provided me with a sense of comfort.”
After participating at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Uru enrolled at the University of Oxford to study for a Masters of International Business degree. Ironically, his first foray into this brave new world reminded him of his previous Olympic aspirations.
“I didn’t know anyone who had been to Oxford or Cambridge University,” he says. “To me it was like a goal or a dream just the same as making it to the Olympics. The problem with being in a rowing environment 24/7 is that it was very insular – I didn’t get a lot of contact with people outside the rowing environment. That’s where the Athlete Career Programme came in.”
The IOC Athlete Career Programme (ACP) is a service provided by the IOC Athletes’ Commission and is run in conjunction with local National Olympic Committees around the world and Adecco, one of the world’s leading providers of Human Resource solutions.
In 2002, at the first IOC International Athletes’ Forum, the members identified that one of the key issues facing athletes is the successful transition to a career after sport. It was agreed that a key focus for the IOC Athletes’ Commission would be to develop a programme to assist athletes to prepare more effectively for the eventual transition and to assist them when making the transition. In 2005 an agreement was signed with Adecco and the IOC ACP was launched. Since then, over 11,000 elite athletes have benefited from advice provided under the programme within the Education, Life Skills and Employment pillars.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have received so much good advice, so much good support. I wouldn’t be here without it,” Uru says. “Applying the same methods that I did in rowing to life outside of rowing is starting to result in incredible opportunities for me … I came over here with a very structured idea of what I wanted to do once I finished at Oxford. The problem is you become aware of so many amazing opportunities that are available. It’s almost like I have a blank canvas.”
Better still, the Olympian-turned-student continues to be able to pursue his first love while studying for his degree. Earlier this year Uru was part of the Oxford University Boat Club that won the prestigious Boat Race against the Cambridge University Boat Club.
“Even though it was incredibly difficult to combine studies and also professional sporting career, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he concludes. “It was difficult at times but the reward is amazing.”