Eilidh Gibson training

Slalom to success

How a top young canoeist strikes a balance between studies and training

Balancing studies and training is one of the toughest challenges an aspiring athlete can face.

Eilidh Gibson, Young people's sport panel member, university student and canoe slalom athlete, has managed to strike a balance that allows her to keep.

Eilidh was recently selected for the senior and under-23 Great Britain canoe slalom team.

The 21-year-old from Perth secured her place after a top performance at the selection trials at Lee Valley Whitewater Centre where she achieved an overall top-three finish.

Now the senior World and European Championships await her in France and Slovenia, as well as the International World Cup Series and U23 World Championships.


Keeping up

As a BSc Biomedical Sciences student at Edinburgh University, balancing training and studying is tricky and Eilidh is grateful to Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes, the British Canoeing performance lifestyle manager and the University Sports Programme for help in balancing training and racing with studies.

She receives funding support and the academic flexibility she needs to achieve in both sport and studies.

With all this going on, you would forgive Eilidh for using her precious spare time to relax, but she is a volunteer member of the Young people’s sport panel led by sportscotland and supported by Young Scot.

This 15-strong group from across Scotland acts as a voice for young people, raising the profile of sport and influencing and shaping the future of sport.

Eilidh says: "Getting the opportunity to be part of the YPSP and work with other young people who have similar ideas to me is incredible.

"I am part of a group which focuses on increasing opportunities and involvement of women and girls in sport.

"Sport can change peoples’ lives and getting to work to increase the number of young people, particularly girls, who get the chance to be involved in sport through the sport panel is something I’m very proud to be a part of."

Olympic dreams

Eilidh’s success at the trials has given her increased vigour in her aspirations to be part of Team GB at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

She says: “My ultimate dream is to be the one person from Britain that gets to go to the Olympics in their C1 women’s debut year and win gold.”

Education on her mind

Third-year exams are in full swing for Eilidh at the moment and after her final year (2017/18) she is planning to relocate to London, where she hopes to take on a Masters part time while pursuing her sporting goals.

“My brain really needs that education stimulus and I love what I’m learning at University,” she says.

Here Eilidh gives us her top three tips for balancing time for studying and training or enjoying sport:

1. Hard work

"You just need to get your head down and work hard at your studies, manage other commitments, preparing for training and actually training – it’s not called ‘hard’ for nothing!"

2. Accept that it is going to be chaotic

"However much time management you do, at points it is going to feel absolutely chaotic but that is okay!"

3. Make good friends with similar interests

"They will keep you sane!"


Find out more

Passionate about the future of sport? Learn more about the Young people's sport panel.

Are you an athlete looking for support in your studies? Find out more about Winning Students.

Interested in canoeing? Visit the Scottish Canoe Association website.

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