Sam in front of the UoN Sport logo

February 4, 2022, by brzbs1

Scholar in Focus: Sam Mostowfi

Ahead of this weekend’s BUCS Gymnastics Championships where we will have many of our gymnastics club competing, we spoke to Sam Mostowfi who is one of our sports scholars at the University of Nottingham. In a great interview, we spoke about the upcoming event for him and his team mates, as well as his journey to becoming a part of the #GreenandGold and his future ambitions after he completes his degree.



Great to meet you Sam and thank you for your time. Could you give us a brief introduction to yourself and your sport?

No problem, I’ve been doing gymnastics from an early age and now compete and study here at the university. I do artistic gymnastics which is made up of six different disciplines. For men, those are floor, pommel, rings, vault, parallel bars and the high bar. I believe that I am an all-rounder, where most gymnasts have one or two pieces that they specialise in, but personally, I do enjoy floor the most because I feel that it suits my body type. To do apparatus like pommel, you need to be lanky and light, whereas gymnasts like me who are springy can excel in the floor and vault disciplines.


When did you start participating in gymnastics and take an interest in the sport, and how did that grow as you got older?

When I was five years old I was like any other kid with absolutely loads of energy and my parents were trying to find somewhere for me to use that. Luckily one of our local gym clubs was pretty close, so they decided to see if I wanted to give it a go on Saturday’s. From there, I just continued to progress and move through the system and squads, and when I got to twelve years old, they realised that I had potential in the sport. At that point my whole family moved to Kent from Brighton, making a big sacrifice, moving their business so that I could train and compete at a better club with better coaches. Shortly after that, at around thirteen, I made the Great Britain development squad and from there continued to move my way up, which has ultimately continued with me enrolling at the University of Nottingham at eighteen.


That’s an impressive story and sounds as though you have a very supportive family that I’m sure are proud! How did you decide to move to Nottingham and study here?

I always knew that I wanted to continue my education alongside my sport because I think that there are so many benefits to it, and you always need to have that backing if you ever need it. When I was eighteen, obviously doing my A-Levels, I wanted to find somewhere where I could balance doing elite sport and studying, and I also feel that at university you do get well supported by sports departments like the one here in Nottingham. I made the decision again with the support of my parents, choosing Nottingham over Loughborough because I felt the reputation and quality of the university, course and sports department all interlinked for me to choose Nottingham. So here I am, studying Finance, Accounting and Management in the Business School.


So that’s a pretty in-depth course too, how have you balanced studying, training and competing?

Yes, the course is not a joke! It’s a full time course, and that’s taught me a lot. Certainly during the last year and a half at university I’ve learnt to become more independent and manage my time better, which has been really good. In a normal week I train for 27 hours, so I have lectures in the morning usually, and then train in the afternoon. In the evenings I can then be flexible on prioritising what’s needed at the time, and I really enjoy both aspects of my training and education because they go hand-in-hand here at the University of Nottingham. Gymnastics has also given me a lot of characteristics that I can apply to everyday life and with moving away from home too, I’ve learnt a lot about how I prioritise my commitments – it’s all about finding the right balance. If you do too much gymnastics, then the educational side can suffer and vice-versa. Being a sport scholar has also helped in that regard, as working with the scholarship team here has given me an extra level of support to be able to achieve all that I can in both areas. For example, the team have helped me with course deadlines, as well as helping me manage my tutor time around training such as camps abroad. When you then add in the facilities here and the strength and conditioning sessions that are provided, it’s a fantastic place to be.


I’m sure it must also be of great support to be a part of the wider gymnastics club at the university, and an influential part too. How is it being a member of the gymnastics club for you?

Firstly, I’d say that the club is very inclusive and welcoming. I’ve personally really enjoyed integrating into a new training environment with many different athletes and gymnasts that are competing at different levels. I’ve also found that the societal aspect of the club has been really good too, we’re always helping to welcome people who’ve never done gymnastics and I’ve made some really good friends through that which has been brilliant.


What would your advice be to a student at the university who wants to try gymnastics and also get involved with the gymnastics club?

I’d say go for the things that scare you the most and really give it a go because then you’ll find out what you enjoy. The hardest thing is getting started but it’s something anyone can get involved in, and it’s such a fun exercise that’s very sociable to do as part of the club. If you’re thinking about it, just get in touch with the club and we’re more than happy to help people. In terms of advice, gymnastics is upper-body based so having a strong core and focusing on specific muscles with key exercises.


The club have done really well in competition so far this year with the University Gymnastics Cup, and we obviously have the BUCS Gymnastics Championships this weekend. What has been like to compete as part of the #GreenandGold?

It’s a big step and I’m really proud to represent the university. It’s really nice to be a part of a team too. Gymnastics can sometimes be individual but working together with them has been really enjoyable. It was great to put on the university kit for the first time, and I’m really excited for the BUCS Championships coming up!


What are your plans after you finish studying at the University of Nottingham?

Well I’m currently in the senior GB team and when I finish my degree, it will be a year before the Olympics in 2024. I’m therefore planning to continue focusing on my degree and competing here at the university, and then really taking a year to focus in on and prepare for Olympic trials. So that’s very exciting and a big goal, but in 2022 we obviously have a lot of big gymnastic competitions such as the European Championships, World Championships and the Commonwealth Games in 2022. Those are competitions that haven’t been seen for a while because of Coronavirus, and I’m also now at an age where I can trial for these events too, so it’s certainly going to be an exciting few years ahead.


Having gone through the gymnastics levels and followed a clear pathway, what would your advice be to people who are on the same journey and are thinking about choosing a similar path to you here at the University of Nottingham?

I would say that being here gives you opportunities that other places can’t. The facilities, the support network and the life experience that it gives you, I don’t think that can be replicated. Honestly, you can’t really get much better than this.


We thank Sam for his time and look forward to seeing how he and the whole gymnastics club fares at the BUCS Gymnastics Championships in Leicester this weekend. With the club in competition over both days, with our men and Sam participating on the Sunday, it’s sure to be a fantastic event. We also wish Sam all the best in his aims to reach many of the elite games he discussed for 2022 and beyond.


Sam in front of UoN backdrop


As well as a reputation for academic excellence, we have a history of sporting success and are passionate about supporting promising athletes during their time at the University of Nottingham. To find out more about our Sports Scholarships, please click here.


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