Alumni in profile

Image of Richard Colman OAM

Richard Colman OAM
Bachelor of Commerce 2010
Deakin Young Alumni of the Year Award 2012

After the hype surrounding the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has past, Australian Paralympic wheelchair athlete and Deakin graduate, Richard Colman, provides an insight into his journey to the games.

‘At Deakin I studied a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in accounting, finance and financial planning. I chose Deakin because it allowed me to further my sporting career and train full time while fitting my studies in. I have studied mostly part time during my course due to the number of international sporting events I compete in each year.

At university I was inspired to look outside the square and always have a go. I was inspired by what I was learning because in a lot of areas I was able to personalise it which created more interest. I am also inspired by past athletes who have gone onto become directors of major accounting firms and professors who have a great work–life balance and enjoy what they do.

Currently I am a full-time athlete focusing on the 2012 London Paralympic Games, which will be my third games. I have been pre-nominated for selection to the team and being current world champion brings added pressure.

Training during this extremely intense period leading up to a Paralympic Games involves training three to four times each day, six days a week, with one day recovery to get the body ready for another tough week. After London I will return my focus to life outside sport for a period of time, before the build up to the next championship begins. I have been trying to delay full-time work for as long as possible because it will be there for the rest of my life, but being at the very top of sport does not last for very long so I need to make the most of it.

Over the past four years I have been travelling the world for between six and eight months of the year, competing in up to eight international competitions each year. Racing week in week out in so many different countries has allowed me to see the world and meet so many people, not just in the sport but people from all walks of life. That has been the most enjoyable part of being an athlete. But it does get tough living out of a suitcase for two to three months at a time, being in different countries and different time zones, in places where no one speaks English and the disability access is very poor – you learn to enjoy life to the max and just go with the flow and always have fun.

In this profession it is important to never get carried away and over confident – when you win, never rely on that one win thinking it will happen the next week. When you win, you have to work even harder to win the next weekend because now you’re the champ that everyone wants to beat. The harder you work, the greater your achievements will be.

My proudest achievement has been winning a Paralympic world championship gold medal, but also seeing athletes I have coached and been heavily involved with perform very well on the international stage.

Today I am motivated by so many things that I am yet to accomplish in sport and outside of sport which I am only now starting to achieve. I never dreamed I would be a full-time athlete with such a great balanced life, being able to travel the world and meet so many people – but things have only just started. There are so many places out there to explore, so many people out there to meet – I have so much more to do.

In the future I would like to be able to continue in my sport as long as possible while fitting work around my sport, be financially independent, and help my sport grow.’

*Image of Richard Colman courtesy of Athletics Australia

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19th November 2013