Nina Bleiker

Nina, who attends the special class for athletes at the high school in Locarno, tells us about life on the National Youth Sports Centre (CST) campus. With a school timetable that takes account of their sporting commitments, daily training sessions with their own coaches and many other services, everything is geared to the needs of Nina and her companions.

Nina Bleiker
Photo: Ralph Heksch

Nina is mad on golf, which she has played for the last six years. The young enthusiast from Graubünden says she has inherited her passion from her family, several of whom play. In recent months, Nina has spent a lot of time away from Chur and her family. Since September she has attended the class for athletes at the high school in Locarno and is lodged at CST. This decision has enabled her to keep practising her sport, train and compete, without jeopardizing her academic studies.

A close-knit class
This special class was started in 2014 on the initiative of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport, in conjunction with CST. The young athletes who attend the class receive special treatment, which enables them to combine their academic and sporting commitments. The course is longer than it would be in a conventional school (five years instead of four), with a lighter weekly timetable. The lessons are fewer in number and are spread throughout the day to fit in with the students’ sporting requirements. “Normally I attend school from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.”, confirms Nina. “This enables me to do my fitness training in the morning and to practise in the afternoon.” And when does she do her homework? “Our teachers know that we athletes have only limited free time. For this reason, they don’t give us much homework and the homework I do get I manage to finish in an hour after supper.” Nina’s class is very close-knit, although the students come from different parts of Switzerland. They support one another in their sporting activities, with plenty of encouragement before competitions, and academically, by studying as a group.

Coaches on the spot
Nina is not only enthusiastic about attending the high school, but also because she benefits from regular, quality coaching with the Swiss Golf Association (ASG) “Until last year, I trained at most two hours a day after school. Naturally, I was tired from studying, and my concentration was often poor.” With this special programme of study, I have more time for training, and we are always supervised by our coaches. “At Chur, I saw my coach just once a week; here in Tenero I am never alone. Every day I get advice on how to improve and play my very best. Even during my time in the gym, I am supervised by a coach specialized in enhancing my fitness.” And the quality of the training is reflected in the athletes’ results. “In just a few months, I have improved a lot and I have been able to participate in more competitions, some of them lasting several days. This increases my prospects of success.”

A choice I would recommend
It was her golf club that informed Nina of the opportunity offered by CST and the Locarno High School. Having considered the possibility with her family, she immediately opted for this advantageous training programme. “I am very happy with my decision and would recommend this solution to young athletes who, like me, want to pursue their career in sport and their academic education.” Nina does not miss her family too much, because at the weekend she can return home. During the week, she is lodged in an athletes’ residence just a short distance from CST, which means she can reach the training camp quickly and easily. For travelling to and from home, CST organizes a special bus service for its young men and women.

“I dream of a future in golf”
Nina is a great believer in this programme and is deeply committed to her work in the classroom and on the green. She is aware, though, that for various reasons he future might not be a high-level sporting career. “Studying is very important because you never know what the future may hold. I know I have made the right choice because I can continue to play golf and, at the same time, earn my high-school diploma, a qualification that opens the way to many vocational opportunities. My dream, though, is to remain in the realm of sport.

 

Interview: Cinzia Pedretti

May 2015