Sarah Cowley

Bachelor of Communication student and high-performance athlete

Sarah Cowley is a rising New Zealand sports star, with her eyes firmly on her future career.

The multi-talented sports star and Olympian is making her mark on the taxing sport of athletics around the world, while at the same time studying towards a Bachelor of Communication at Massey via distance learning.

Up until 2013 Sarah’s focus was the women’s heptathlon – that sees athletes compete in seven disciplines: the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m running, long jump, javelin throw and 800 metre running race. Now Sarah has a new focus, one event – the high jump, where she sets to make her mark and win Gold in 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

To be competitive on the international circuit, the multi-disciplinary sport requires a huge amount of training: six days a week in Sarah’s case. That doesn’t leave much time for studying.

“The flexibility of distance learning at Massey has been great. I can work my study commitments around training and competition which is ideal. Massey goes out of their way to do the best by their athletes which is fantastic. I once sat an exam in my hotel room in Prague overlooking the Prague castle and supervised by my coach!”

Originally from Rotorua, Sarah grew up playing many sports. She has been competing in athletics internationally for over ten years and now divides her time between Auckland and Europe (Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic). “It sounds a lot more glamorous than it is!”

But she says competing at a high level in sport is not forever and you need to prepare for life after sport.

“Distance learning is fantastic for athletes. The biggest challenge is managing your time to fit in with the course work. Know exactly when your assignments are due and set a time each week to work. Check in with Stream regularly and hopefully find someone else who is taking the same paper as you to bounce ideas off.

And she has a word of advice for those with sporting ambitions: “Never, never, never give up on your sporting dreams. Hard work and patience will be rewarded but you must have a plan about how to execute your goals. Once you have got this surround yourself with the best people for you and get after it.“