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Nigel Walker is at the top of his game – again!

PROLIFIC: Nigel Walker has been breaking plenty of boundaries during his career

SOME PEOPLE struggle to be successful in just one career. But Nigel Walker has been successful in three.

He is Britain’s only black sports CEO having had two outstanding sporting careers.

Walker’s career as a sportsman was a prolific and successful one, having made his mark in track and field and then the rugby field.

CAMPAIGN

The man from Wales has gone on to become Britain’s only black national director, the position he now holds for the English Institute of Sport (EIS). Born in Cardiff, Walker began his career as a hurdler and competed in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, reaching a semi-final.

Less than 10 years later he was lining up on the wing for the Wales rugby team.

He has been head of sport at BBC Wales and was a respected pundit for a short while following retirement.

Energetic Walker has been pivotal a newly launched EIS campaign, #More2Me designed to help athletes plan for life after sport. Walker told the Voice of Sport: “I love my role, the high-performance system in the UK, is one of the most sophisticated and efficient systems in the world if not the most efficient and effective in the world.

“I started in 2010 so we oversaw London 2012 which was tremendous and there are now 430 members of staff and we operate at about 16 sites – of which the EIS own eight – one for each specific sport.

“My role as national director is to oversee the campaigns, work closely with the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association, we also work with UK Sport who allocate the funding for each sport, we work very closely with them.”

He believes the success of British athletics in recent years is a direct result of the system employed in the UK to nurture and enhance the talent available.

“Team GB certainly punch above their weight at Olympic times and during the four years in between as well.

“We are an integral part of that as the high performance institute works so well.

“Despite the Tokyo Olympics being eighteen months away we are already planning for the Paris Olympics in 2024, and looking at how the high performance system should look during those four years, to give our athletes the best chance possible.”

RECORD

Walker was no stranger to elite sport during his career, competing in one Olympics, and several world and European championships as a hurdler, he also holds the world record for the fastest losing time in a 110m hurdles event.

Following a second consecutive non-selection for Team GB for the 1992 Olympic Games, he retired from athletics to pursue a career in rugby, and less than a year later was playing for Wales, making his debut against Ireland on March 6, 1993.


CLASS OF HIS OWN: Nigel Walker during his impressive rugby days

Despite concerns he was too slight to cope with the physicality of elite rugby, Walker excelled in the sport, succeeding where many other athletes – including Usain Bolt and Dwain Chambers – have failed.

Transcending his skills to a completely different sport, Walker played for Cardiff between 1992-1998, scoring 392 points for his hometown club in a mere 121 appearances.

This would have been impressive enough, but Walker went on to take the international rugby scene by storm also, scoring 12 tries in just 17 appearances.

He recalled: “My favourite memory is playing against England at Twickenham for the grand slam.

“A lot of people say my best try was against France in 1994, but even though we lost the game to England 15-8, we still won the championship as our points difference was too much, so winning the Six Nations at Twickenham was a wonderful feeling.”

Walker undertook an MBA while he was still playing rugby which is a decision he says has paved the way for his future success.

ADVISORS

“The MBA was hard work – it was to give myself a career after my career. That issue has been in the news lately as a big issue. Our performance lifestyle advisors are working with sports governing bodies to make sure athletes not only perform at their best during their career but have one eye on what comes after.

“The #More2Me campaign was launched recently, which emphasises this. Athletes will know who their ambassadors are, and those ambassadors are teaching athletes how they made the transition from their career to life after, and how important it is.

“I never had a performance lifestyle advisor, but I very luckily thought that my athletics and rugby career would not last forever.

“I took the MBA as people told me it was the qualification that was the most versatile, if I hadn’t I would’ve been in trouble when my career ended.”

Walker’s career is unique, having gone from the track, to the field, media, and now the boardroom as Britain’s only black national director.

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