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Building an educational legacy for future generations of sporting heroes

5 September 2012

  • Improved education for athletes across the world to be part of London 2012 legacy, as World Academy of Sport and the International Baccalaureate announce collaboration.
  • Project will provide flexible post 16 learning pathways for athletes giving them access to a top international qualification while continuing to pursue their sporting careers.
  • Project emphasises need to improve education for elite athletes and ensure that sporting bodies and governments across the world prioritise the long terms futures of their athletes.


The World Academy of Sport and the International Baccalaureate (IB) have today announced a project that will provide elite athletes across the world with the opportunity to gain a flexible, internationally recognised education while advancing their sporting careers.  The programme will offer young sportspeople the chance to study courses and content from the renowned IB Diploma Programme, delivered flexibly over a 3 or 4 year period to fit around their training schedules and travel commitments.

Previous research from the World Academy of Sport (1) has highlighted the negative perceptions held by athletes and parents of educational options, particularly in relation to a lack of flexibility in the delivery of educational programmes. Evidence has also shown that athletes are often willing to defer their post 16 education in order to commit to the training required to move forward their athletic career – but more often than not, the numbers of athletes who actually return to education after their sporting career is compromised.  As a result, career progression is often an issue, and finding a way for athletes to have a viable career path, and “job security” is an industry-wide concern.

The initiative is supported by a number of high profile members from within the international sporting community, including retired Olympic sprinter Frank Fredericks, and IPC Athlete Ambassador, Katrina Webb. The project is also fully endorsed by the World Academy of Sport International Advisory Board which includes several International Sport Federation partners and IOC members.

The project stakeholders are seeking further support and investment to provide scholarship funding for athletes’ training and living expenses for the programme. This will allow it to grow quickly beyond its pilot phase and make a real difference to the education and career prospects of athletes worldwide.

Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, says: “With the Paralympics in full swing there is no better time to focus on the importance of creating an educational legacy for London 2012. With this project, we want to ensure that future athletes have the education, skills and knowledge to enable them to thrive beyond their athletic careers, and to continue to be successful role models and ambassadors for their sport.”

François Carrard, Chairman, World Academy of Sport International Advisory Board, commented:  “By working with the International Baccalaureate on this project, we are able to offer a highly regarded international qualification tailored to meet the needs of the sporting community. We will continue to encourage sporting bodies to support this initiative so we can help as many athletes as possible gain access to an education which will provide them with excellent career prospects when they retire from competitive sport.”

Jeffrey Beard, Director General, International Baccalaureate, adds: “The IB is committed to increasing access to a top international education through our IB Diploma Programme curriculum, and we work closely with a number of global partners to achieve this. We are delighted to be working with the World Academy of Sport on this unique project, which will enable athletes to benefit from the global educational opportunities provided by the IB's Diploma Programme, preparing them for success in their sporting careers and beyond.”

IOC Member, and former Chair of the IOC Athletes Commission Frank Fredericks, says: “The importance of creating an educational legacy for athletes is something that is recognised widely throughout the industry, but there is still a need to raise awareness on an international level, and champion the importance of education for athletes across the world. This collaboration between the World Academy of Sport and the IB will make a real difference to the educational pathways available to athletes in the future, and it could not come at a more timely moment.” 

Notes to Editors

For media enquiries please contact Elizabeth Roberts at  or +31 (0)703 526 252 .

To find out more about how to get involved in supporting the pilot, please contact Michael Cary at or +44 777 064 0904.

About the pilot

The Pilot Project is seeking expressions of interest from IB World Schools to participate in the project. Schools selected to the project will be assessed based on the World Academy of Sport criteria as an Athlete Friendly Education Centre. To date the World Academy of Sport has received an expression of interest from a school in Finland which has been designated the inaugural WAoS ‘Athlete Friendly Education Centre’ with the aim of delivering the pilot project in 2013.

 About the World Academy of Sport

The World Academy of Sport is World Sport's Education Partner, delivering educational programmes and creating sustainable long term partnerships for the benefit of sport and partner organisations worldwide.

The Academy offers a range of educational programmes with a global reach for sport and event participants - athletes, event organisers administrators and managers - creating a centre of excellence to deliver world class education for the global sport community. Through its various partnerships the WAoS runs programmes in many regions and countries throughout the world.

It has established specific education partner academies with several international sport federations representing close to 800 national federations to provide further tailored education for their member constituents around the world including:

  • International Basketball Federation (FIBA)
  • International Ski Federation (FIS)
  • International Rugby Board (IRB)
  • International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
  • International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA)
  • International Cricket Council (ICC)


About the International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate is a not-for profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For over 40 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for their high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalised 21st century, and for helping to develop the citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Founded in 1968, currently there are close to 1 million IB students at 3,440 schools in 141 countries across the world.

(1) World Academy of Sport Student Athlete Research October 2005  - Qualitative findings based on 20 in depth interview with students athletes and their parents