This article was first published in the October 2012 UK edition of Accounting and Business magazine.
It’s been an unforgettable summer for ACCA student Ed McKeever. With a prowess that has seen him dubbed ‘the Usain Bolt of the water’, he stormed to victory in the men’s 200m kayak sprint at the London 2012 Olympics, bagging a gold medal for Team GB. He finished the race in 36.246 seconds, ahead of silver medallist Saul Craviotto Rivero, of Spain, at 36.540 seconds, in a tense final at Eton Dorney.
But the celebrations didn’t end there. With barely time to catch his breath, last month the 29-year-old, who has been sponsored by ACCA for the past three years, went on to marry his fiancée Anya Kuczha.
McKeever, from Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire, left his job as an accountant’s assistant with drinks importer Hi-Spirits in 2011 to fulfil a punishing full-time training schedule.
‘I kept my motivation through habit, if anything,’ he recalls. ‘You get into a routine, training; even when you don’t want to get out of bed, you just do it.’
That motivation paid off on the day. ‘I didn’t really let the pressure wear me down at all,’ he says. ‘I just concentrated on what I was doing. I knew I’d done the hard work and I just had to stick to my race plan.’
While he admits that the race was ‘a bit of a blur’, what he won’t forget is receiving his medal on the podium. ‘It was a great feeling, standing in front of a 20,000-strong British crowd singing along to the national anthem. It was a very proud moment.’
Not only that, he has also had a postbox painted gold in his home town, appeared on a Royal Mail stamp and took part in the victory parade in London.
But McKeever has had no time to rest on his laurels. Almost as soon as he’d stepped off the podium he was preparing for his wedding, due to take place as we went to press.
He is now transferring some of that Olympic dedication to a land-based (and kayak-free) training programme: his ACCA studies. Having sat paper P1, Governance, Risk and Ethics, nearly two years ago in December 2010, he hopes to sit P2, Corporate Reporting, and P3, Business Analysis, this December.
‘I chose accountancy because it’s a solid business background,’ he says. ‘In 10 years I probably won’t be kayaking any more, so I will probably be sat behind a desk, but I’m looking forward to that part of my life as well.’