A sports scholar from Coventry University is set to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Romanian Ioan Achiriloaie, 23, who graduated from the University last year with a degree in sports management, is set to represent his country in skiing at the forthcoming games, which take place in Sochi, Russia from this Friday.
A keen participant in the sport from an early age, Ioan first began competing back in 2003 when he entered the National Children’s Championships of Romania. Fulfilling the promise that he showed at that tournament, Ioan went on to represent his country at junior level but he was on the verge of quitting the sport altogether due to the financial strains and time pressures associated with high-level competition.
It was at this point that Ioan came to study sports management in Coventry, whereupon spotting his talent the University awarded him with a sports scholarship. This enabled Ioan to compete for Coventry at the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) Alpine Championships in Austria in March 2012, where he finished as runner-up in both the Slalom and Giant Slalom events.
Spurred on by his success in Austria and encouraged by the backing he received from the University, Ioan embarked on a Winter Olympics qualifying campaign last year, entering races in Slovenia, Switzerland, Italy and elsewhere. Ioan’s performances at these events earned him his place in the Romanian team for the games and he’ll be competing in the Alpine Skiing, Downhill and Super Combined events on 9th and 14th February.
Ioan said: “Qualifying for the Olympics is naturally the high point of my skiing career but while I believed I had the ability to compete at this level the reality is that I would never have had the chance of being selected to represent my country had it not been for the help and support of Coventry University.
“They provided me with the funding I needed to enter the qualifying events. But it wasn’t just the financial support that made the difference. Staff and colleagues at the University encouraged me all the way and I learned what it felt like to be appreciated as an athlete. I will always be grateful to them for helping me to achieve my dream.”
Ioan’s achievement in qualifying for the Winter Olympics marks a further chapter in the ongoing success story of the University’s sports programmes. Its masters course in sport management has recently been voted one of the best in its field in a global league table.
The Sport Management MSc, which has claimed number one spot in the UK for the past three years in the prestigious Eduniversal guide, has now broken into its top 15 worldwide to rank 12th overall.
The masters programme gained further international recognition recently when it became the focus of a unique partnership between Coventry University and the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) in Sochi.
RIOU is the world’s first university dedicated to sport business education and as part of this new agreement, students will have the opportunity to study for a double diploma awarded by Coventry University and RIOU.