"My degree gave me a good understanding of the psychology element of working in sport, it really helped me in terms of my mentality. I also learnt general sport science and all the important information an athlete needs. When I work with my strength and conditioning coach now, I understand what he’s talking about."
How do you increase a shot putter’s ability? Simple, don’t bother measuring their throws.
At least, that’s the case for Bedfordshire alumna and former women’s rugby star Maggie Alphonsi MBE.
Last month, Maggie brought down the curtain on an illustrious rugby career – one which included a World Cup win in 2014 and culminated with the Premiership title for Saracens in her final game.
Far from throwing away her career as a sportswoman, the 31-year-old will now focus on a passion stemming from her days as a schoolgirl: athletics.
“I’ve always loved athletics,” she said. “I did it before I went into rugby.
“Rugby was my love but now I’m thinking ‘what could be another challenge?’
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a very good career in rugby so I’ve got that advantage already. I know I’ve got the potential to be a very good thrower.”
Maggie admits she doesn’t know what the women’s shot put world record of 22.63m looks like, and remains adamant that her unique training style will help her reach new lengths.
“My coach (Tracey Quarty) refuses to measure my throws, which is a good thing because it means that I can actually concentrate on the technique,” she said.
“It’s doing me good because I’m really focusing on the circle as opposed to the outcome. If we develop the technique, the rest will come.”
Should Maggie make it to the Rio Olympics in 2016, it will mark ten years since her graduation from Bedfordshire (then De Montfort University). The 2010 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year says her BSc in Sport and Exercise Science allowed her to excel in sport.
“My degree gave me a good understanding of the psychology element of working in sport,” said Maggie. “It really helped me in terms of my mentality.
“I also learnt general sport science and all the important information an athlete needs. When I work with my strength and conditioning coach now, I understand what he’s talking about.
“For me it was perfect in terms of my sporting capabilities. The knowledge I developed through university really helped me push on to be a better athlete.”