Canoe slalom gold medallist Etienne Stott looks back on “an incredibly big journey” as he received his OU degree in Psychology on stage in Milton Keynes.
Etienne began studying with The Open University around the time of his selection for the London 2012 Olympics.
He juggled his studies around training for the Games, where he won a gold medal with crewmate Tim Baillie in the men’s canoe slalom double.
A graduate in mechanical engineering from Nottingham University, Etienne found his first-hand experience of the power of psychology in sport led him to choose his second degree to study Psychology with the OU.
Now retired from canoeing, Etienne said his OU studies made a huge difference to his life:
“I have learnt so much, the bottom line is I have grown as a person and I’m incredibly happy to have been on this journey.
“I have worked really really hard and found it incredibly challenging, but also the demanding nature of it gave me confidence.”
Fellow students are “inspiration”
Etienne says the OU offered him the flexibility he needed to study and continue his sport. He described his tutors as “kind, easy to contact and understanding of his other commitments”. He says his OU studies have made him the most proud:
“I really admire people who engage with studying with the OU because to me there is an implicit high level of motivation that you can infer from anybody who would do a degree like this.
“They clearly have to set aside certain aspects of their life temporarily in pursuit of this goal. They are making sacrifices, commitments – financial – but also in terms of time and energy.”
Etienne said he had studied alongside people who provided inspiration to him, including many single parents:
“These people are studying after their kids have gone to bed and before they wake up which is an incredible commitment and I have a lot of respect for them.”
Holding his Olympic gold medal in one hand and his OU degree scroll in the other Etienne, who is now 39, said:
“I am proud of myself. It’s been an incredible journey!”