Queen's University

Alex Cataford, Student and Cyclist

Alex Cataford, a first-year student in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is balancing his university studies and cycling career. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Cycling Association).

While his fellow first-year Engineering classmates tackled Orientation activities in September, Alex Cataford faced a different challenge at the World Junior Cycling Championship in Coppenhagen.

“I was disappointed to miss Engineering Orientation because it seems like a unique experience. However, I know that some sacrifices are needed to compete at this level, and the satisfaction I get from cycling ensures that the sacrifices are worthwhile,” he says.

As an elite athlete, Mr. Cataford has well-honed time management skills, which helped him effectively prepare for the two momentous events -- heading off to university and cycling in a world championship. In the weeks before the championship, he was busy emailing professors to make arrangements for missing the first two weeks of class.

“Alex was very proactive at getting everything he needed for the first week of classes he missed. He even completed assignments for the first couple of weeks while training and racing in Copenhagen,” says Lynann Clapham, Associate Dean (Academic), Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “Alex is doing very well in his first year of engineering and is a great example of our students’ desire and ability to maintain their academics while often participating in significant extracurricular activities.”

Mr. Cataford considered delaying going to university, but in the end he decided to enroll at Queen’s.

“I knew that cycling is only part of my life that will last for 20 years. For that reason, I chose to go to school and balance both careers,” he says.

Mr. Cataford has set up his class schedule so that he can effectively train for cycling. His goals include competing for Canada in the Olympic Games and racing professionally.

“Unfortunately, I had some major bike malfunction in the race, which led to a disappointing finish. However, I still learned a lot from the experience and will try to use what I have learned to perform better in the future,” he says.

And even though he missed out on Orientation, Mr. Cataford can always ask his father and grandfather—both Queen’s Engineering alumni—about the traditions he missed.

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Last updated at 4:55 pm EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
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