Kicking off a series of profiles exploring the lives of the real life students featured in our new Born For This campaign, we speak to Bradly Sinden, an Arden student and recent Olympic Silver medallist. Bradly combines studying with us with a unique lifestyle - as a member of Team GB's Taekwondo team, Bradly trains most days. We caught up with him to find out how he fits it all in, as well as hearing about what he was born to do.
Hi Bradly, What are you studying?
I'm studying Accounting and Finance.
And what do you do alongside studying?
I’m a Taekwondo athlete for GB Taekwondo. I've been a part of the full-time team since 2016, so the last five years, and have been on their Cadet and Junior Programme since 2012.
What have you most enjoyed about studying with Arden University?
I think it’s the flexibility - there's not a strict timetable. I'm doing distance learning, that's the thing that drew me in in the first place. If there were set times I have to be in a uni, there's hard training days where I wouldn’t be bothered. So, if I come back, and I'm like, you know, what I ‘m not going study today, then I can catch up. It's that flexibility of learning.
How much of your time is that taken up by training?
I train five days a week, two-or-three times a day. Wednesday can be more of a recovery day, and sometimes you might have injuries but, in general, I kick basically every day. So yeah, quite a lot.
What do you want to do with your degree?
I've always thought about being an accountant, and if I didn't get into the team in 2016, I was going to start doing an accounting degree. With Taekwondo, and most sports, it's not a long career, especially with a contact sport. I might go until I'm 30, and then I want to do something after that. Or I could get a serious injury, so you need to plan ahead. I can study within my training scheme, so it's not being affected, and I can get that degree on the side.
How do you balance your studying with your work life?
So in between sessions, I can go over the stuff I've learned, but it's mainly at nights and the main bulk is at weekends, especially when I've not got competitions, I can just crack on with it and get that main bulk done.
What's your advice for anyone considering studying with Arden?
I think you’ll just see what works best for you. A lot of people now have jobs and decide they want to go into a different sector, or people realise that if they do this degree, they’ll get higher up in their own work, and it's something you can do and manage with your day job. It's not something where you'd have to quit, because you can do it all online if you want to. Or if you work part time, there's certain days you can go in and do the learning there that way. So, you've got that flexibility to decide how you want to do it.
What was your childhood like? What do you feel you were you born to do?
Taekwondo. I started Taekwondo when I was four. My sister was doing it and I got dragged along, but I was a really hyperactive kid and couldn't stand still. While I was watching my sister, I was already kicking in the air, so the coach said “All right, if he can do it, and not mess about, I'll let him on.” Taekwondo was my main sport, my first sport, and turned out to be my forever sport.
When did you kind of discover that you wanted to do something with finance?
I've always just liked maths. Some people think like finance and maths can be boring, especially when I kick people in the face for a living. But I just like anything that challenges my brain. I like figuring things out. And then the different sectors of accounting, the finance sector, the taxation; there's a lot of different aspects. Especially stuff like tax, I find it interesting because you don't get taught anything in school about it. So, finding out the different ways that works, and the loopholes around it and stuff like that, I just like understanding it more.
If you could offer some advice for your childhood version of yourself, what it would be?
So for me, in my junior career, I just got a few medals, but I wasn't winning things. Even in training, with the people my age I’d beat, when it came to the competitions, they’d always do better than me. You get doubts in your head, but I’d always get back to it and say “No, it doesn't matter. I will get there in the future. I believe in myself.” Everyone has a different time clock or timeframe. You don't have to be doing everything right now. It’s the same with school. Someone might be further ahead than you in school, but that person could get lazy. When everything doesn't fully come naturally to you, and you work at it, you get that passion, you get that drive for it, and that's the thing that gets you that top result in the future.
What were the Olympics like?
Strange. What you see on TV is a totally different experience. There was no crowd there because of COVID, but other athletes who were fighting got to go and watch. So that was good, and we did get a few of our teammates to watch. But it was really good to be there, and then it was heart-breaking to not get gold. I'm still proud of my journey though. Since I've joined the team, to do what I've done, no one would have expected it. Now I'm at that top level I’ve still just got a long way to improve so it's going to be fun adapting and changing to take that into Paris.
What was your highlight of the games?
I'd say my semi-finals. I was losing by, I think, 10 points going into that final round. I’d been unlucky with some things but I think I was fighting quite well in the first round. So, I was like it doesn't matter if I lose this fight, I'm just going to give him everything. That's what I did, and to come out of that was amazing, knowing I've got that medal.
And where do you keep your Silver Medal?
I’m actually still waiting for the case to arrive so it’s currently in my sock drawer wrapped up in socks. I don’t want it to get scratched!
To find out how an Arden University degree can help you realise what you were born to do click here