Commonwealth Games-bound cyclist, Finn Crockett, took some time out the saddle this week – swapping Lycra for academic robes – as he graduated from the University of Stirling.
The 22-year-old, who will make his Team Scotland debut at the Games in Birmingham later this summer, received a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in French and Marketing, having balanced his studies with an intense program of training and competition.
Finn – who has been part of the University’s high performance sports scholarship program after joining as a second-year student in 2019 – has recently signed up with one of the UK’s biggest pro-cycling teams, Ribble Weldtite.
Despite his impressive progress in cycling, which also saw him claim his first ever senior UCI road race title in the spring, Finn insists his graduation stands as one of his proudest achievements.
Finn, from Strathpeffer, Ross-shire, said: “The past three years have been pretty tricky with COVID and just trying to balance cycling, work and life has been tough. But I’ve got my graduation and I’m really chuffed to make it through – and that’s probably been the biggest win of this year.
“Stirling has been really supportive of my sport and aspirations and I wouldn’t have been able to cross the finish line without the academic flexibility which really helped.”
Balancing academic work with training and high level competition is one of the main challenges for scholar athletes. However, Finn, who spent three months of his degree remotely attending a French university as part of the Erasmus program, felt Stirling – as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence – provided the best environment for him to learn and progress in his sport.
“It is generally really hard to consistently train and study at the same time but the academic support, which I relied on quite heavily, especially in my final semester, gave me the extra time to focus and produce my best work whilst maintaining a consistent program .
“The gym is also really good; and I was really thankful for the strength and conditioning sessions which opened my eyes to that side of things. I was able to balance that with my cycling training and that definitely helped me progress.
“The University has just built new sports facilities and there’s a gym network which is really good. You are just surrounded by athletes, which I really, really like and it is a nice environment to be in. Cycling is a very individual sport so it was important for me to come to a place where I could meet other athletes. Stirling is a great training base. ”
It has been a relatively meteoric rise for Finn, who only took up road racing at the age of 16 having participated in mountain biking up until that point, but he believes a holistic approach to sport has led him to where he is now.
He said: “I did all kind of sports when I was younger, and my mum and dad were really supportive of sport in general. I then found mountain biking when I was about 11 or 12. Throughout my teenage years, I got into racing, doing the Scottish national series and some of the British stuff.
“I just really enjoyed it and then transitioned to road cycling. After two years as a junior, I realized how much I loved road racing. I get a great peace of mind when I’m cycling. It’s like meditation. ”
He added: “I’ve just been working away steadily and signed with Ribble Weldtite, who are one of the biggest teams in the UK, last year. This year has been a huge step up for me. I’ve gone from mountain biking for fun to being selected for the Commonwealth Games, which is awesome. ”
Having enjoyed his graduation, Finn’s journey has led him to this month’s Commonwealth Games, where he will compete for Team Scotland at his first ever senior international event.
Speaking of his call-up, he said: “It was amazing. I met the qualification standards a week before the selections closed, so it was a bit touch and go. To finally get the call saying that they had selected me was amazing – but then I had a month where I couldn’t really tell anyone, which was quite difficult as all I wanted to do was tell everyone!
“It’s amazing and to represent Scotland on the world stage is a big honor.
“I’m looking forward to soaking up the Games’ experience. I’ve talked to a lot of athletes that have been before and they say it is different to any other competition. I’m going to try to do my best. Whether that’s fighting for a medal or helping teammates out, I’m all for it. ”