Oar-inspiring…Nicholas Blackman is putting in the work to secure his future

Nicholas Blackman has big dreams for his rowing career where he’d ultimately like to represent Australia at the Olympics. In the months ahead, he’s working towards achieving success in the men’s coxless quad at the Under 23 World Rowing Championships in Bulgaria.

The 20-year-old’s aspirations go beyond the water where Nicholas aims to become a leading engineer in the Australian construction or automotive industry. For National Careers Week (15 – 21 May 2023), Nicholas explains the value in studying mechanical engineering (part-time) at Adelaide University, while competing in the sport he loves.

How important is it for elite athletes to balance their careers and sport?

While sport can open lots of doors and provide lots of opportunities, for most of us it will only paint a portion of our careers and often will not be able to financially support us in the future. So, it’s important to have another option outside of sport. It also provides a good opportunity to take a break from training and immerse yourself in a completely different environment.

How do you maintain work/study while competing or on tour or in your daily training environment?

Having time that is dedicated to study is vital and going into uni and attending physical sessions makes the learning more engaging and enjoyable and ensures you have periods assigned to study. Online flexibility is nice when training may mean relocating to different states like my current situation where I’m based in Perth for the next couple of months.

What are some of the skills you have developed through your sport that are transferrable to your career away from sport?

One aspect that is applicable to both aspects is being determined and realising that sometimes you just have to do the work even though you may not feel like it. At the end of the day, it’s always enjoyable seeing the results on the other side of hard work both with study and on the water.

Can you share what you are enjoying about your current study or work?

I love just about anything that moves or is held together with nuts and bolts so studying mechanical engineering for me is like learning about your hobby. Sure the maths and physics can be tedious but some of the subjects are really interesting. It makes it easy to keep studying even when I’m abroad and have large training loads.

What’s a tip you could give other athletes thinking of studying, working, volunteering whilst still training and competing?

100% do it. Plenty of people sit on the fence for too long and end up regretting not starting to study earlier. With saying that, manage your load - you need a life balance and if that means doing one subject that’s ok. Rest and having down time is just as important as your training or career path.