International cyclist cruises through business degree

Published 4 December 2006

For international cyclist Katherine Bates hitting the books is a welcome distraction from her gruelling racing and training schedule.

The 24-year-old, who placed fourth in the women’s individual pursuit at the Athens Olympics, is studying a Bachelor of Business degree by distance education through Southern Cross University. She will be visiting the Lismore campus today (Monday December 4) to meet with academic and support staff.

Katherine, 24, spends seven months of the year racing professionally in Europe and the other five months of the year training in Australia with the Australian Institute of Sport. The last four years she has been with a Dutch team, and from next year she will race with a German professional team.

But, while Katherine is one of Australia’s top female cyclists and the only female cyclist competing in both road and track events on the international circuit, she knows there is more to life than the bike.

“The most important aspect is that there is life after sport. I don’t intend being an athlete for my entire working life and you never know when you might get injured,” Katherine said.

“I also think it’s important to have another dynamic in your life – you need to have a bit of balance.

“Professional sport can be life consuming. You are living, eating and breathing the sport.”

So, while she is busy planning for the Beijing Olympics Katherine is also putting her mind to a business degree which she hopes will provide the basis for a career after cycling.

“I have some training sessions for six to seven hours where I am doing nothing other than peddling. If you’ve got nothing but cycling then that’s all you think about,” she said.

“I study a bit in the morning and then when I get on the bike it’s a perfect time for revision. It also adds to the conversation with my training partners.

“I also do a lot of travelling which gives me time to do a lot of reading.”

Katherine said she had completed two units each semester this year and would complete another one over summer.

“Southern Cross University has been absolutely fantastic in meeting my needs. They have been better than good. The lecturers all email me regularly,” she said.

“Anything I ask for they jump at the opportunity.”

Katherine’s sister Natalie, who competes on the international circuit and will be racing with another German team, has also combined professional sport with study.

“She is qualified as a physiotherapist and she is now doing an arts degree – you can’t stop her learning. My parents are both very well educated and have pushed for us to take the holistic approach,” she said.

“I’m very lucky that I have come from such a supportive and fantastic family.”

Katherine is one of a number of top athletes studying at Southern Cross University, which has been endorsed by the Australian Institute of Sport as an Athlete Friendly University.

Through its Elite Athlete program the University incorporates a wide range of flexible study and assessment options to assist athletes to successfully integrate their academic and sporting aspirations.

Among the other athletes studying through Southern Cross University are triathletes Brett Lee and Clayton Fettell, and gymnast Belinda Archer. Graduates include former Wallaby Owen Finegan and former Sydney Swans player Daniel McPherson.

Media opportunity: Katherine Bates will be at the Lismore campus, R238 at 11.30am on Monday, December 4.

Photo: Katherine Bates competes in the women’s points race at the recent Sydney World Cup where she won the gold medal. Photo © Cycling Australia

Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748