Thomas Smith had a keen interest in sports from a very young age and while he was initially happy to get involved in sports at every opportunity, he started to become aware of the difference in physical capabilities between himself and his peers. Tom was born with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and as his school friends got taller, stronger and faster, he started to feel at a bit of a disadvantage when competing.
At the age of 9 years, Tom joined the Dwarf Sports Association and started to participate in a range of sporting activities and social events for people with dwarfism. It was at this point that Tom started to get involved in competitive sports, competing against people of a similar height and stature.
Tom moved into secondary education with the King’s School in Peterborough and continued to compete in sports with the sports association, and his natural ability was soon spotted by a sports talent scout. This opportunity steered Tom towards competitive para-powerlifting, a passion that continues to grow as he moves further up the ladder towards becoming an elite athlete.
Upon completing is secondary education, Tom enrolled with Cambridge Regional College to study Sports and has spent the last three years working his way up from the BTEC L2 to L4 HNC, all while training and competing in para-powerlifting. Tom has a long-term aim to see his studies through to a full degree after which he plans to pursue a career in Sports and Performance Analysis.
Tom said, “I chose to study at Cambridge Regional College because the 3-day study programme allowed me to achieve my qualification while keeping on track with my Para Powerlifting training. This became even more important in considering my higher-level studies, as I was starting to work towards qualifying for the 2024 Paralympic Games. The courses offered me the flexibility I needed to train whilst providing me with the opportunity to fulfil my academic ambitions.
Studying and practising sports has supported my development in both respects. I am able to use my practical knowledge to support studies, using personal experience as examples in my coursework, and the knowledge I am gaining on the course has provided me with a detailed overview about the different opportunities within my industry and ways in which I can best access these. The course subject links with my training meaning I can merge the two to help myself on my journey.”
Tom has recently been selected to represent Team GB in the Para-Powerlifting World Cup, which takes place in Manchester in March 2021. The experience of competing at this level will support Tom in his development programme to represent Great Britain in the 2024 Paralmypics.
Tom added, “My advice would be to explore the benefits and support on offer at Cambridge Regional College whether enquiring as an athlete or someone focusing purely on their educational journey.”
Find out more about studying Sports at CRC.