We talked to Nigel Levine – European Under 23 Champion / European Indoor Silver 400m to ask him what it was like for him when he started out in sport…
Did you choose your sport or did your parents choose it for you?
I chose it for myself.
Were they actively supportive of you doing the sport?
My parents were extremely supportive and took me to training and competitions; they also supported me financially in terms of training fees and equipment.
When did you start training regularly?
Aged 14, about twice a week.
Did your parents ever think being a professional sportsperson would be a good career for you?
No. Sport was just for fun as far as they were concerned, I liked the sports I did and I was never forced to play, they were always there for me.
Were you aware of the sacrifices your parents made for you?
Very aware, they made a lot of sacrifices they even finished work early to take me to training and pick me up, as well as helping me financially.
How difficult is it/was it to balance sport and school?
Not difficult, I would try to finish an hour early; the teachers would let me go so I didn’t find it that hard.
Did your training ever affect your school work; is this something that your parents were worried about?
Not really, I got what I needed to get done out of the way so I could focus on training. My parents didn’t worry that it was affecting my school work, as I got the grades and qualification I needed and wanted.
What did Sport give you as a child?
Something to do, which kept me busy. I was also very competitive and enjoyed doing sport. As I have got older sport has given me self-discipline and control.
Would you encourage you children to take part in sport professionally?
I would let them choose, they wouldn’t have to be sporty, and they could try other things. It would depend on what they wanted to do, I would be supportive and guide them in the right direction and give them advice if they wanted it.
Do you think it’s a good idea for a child to focus on one main sport straight away?
No, children should do as much as they can and find out what they are good at and enjoy it. If they are forced they will lose motivation and will probably stop. I did basketball, table tennis, badminton and other sports and I think it’s a good idea to try different things which gives you transferable skills and helps you find sports you like that are not forced upon you.