KU’s golden boy Ed McKeever chats to The River

Kingston University’s gold medallist talks about life as an Olympic hero.

Zoe Birdsall

Ed McKeever, one of Team GB’s glorious golden boys on the water this summer, has one main message for Kingston students: “Enjoy what you are doing.”

Now a national hero, Ed started out right here at KU, studying for a BA in accountancy and finance.

It was a busy summer for him. He recently got married to his university sweetheart, Anya.

National hero

On August 11, Ed McKeever took part in the race of his life, the men’s kayak single 200m sprint final. After 36.25 intense seconds, Ed crossed the finish line a national hero.

“The first thought, when I crossed the finish line, was to check both ways to make sure I was in front, then there was relief followed by an overwhelming sense of joy and accomplishment,” said Ed, who was awarded not only the gold medal, but also his own postage stamp.

“Nothing can compare to standing on top of the podium with the gold medal around your neck, singing the national anthem in front of 20,000 home fans.”

Ed first took to the water when he was 12 and six years later he was at KU, training on the Thames.

“I started kayaking as it was just something to do after school, you can’t really get a lot better when you’re 12 or 13 than playing about in boats. I moved to Kingston to train with the GB kayak squad, as they were training in Teddington at the time.”

The preparations he made for the 2012 Games were intense: “I train three times a day, six days a week, which takes a lot physically and mentally. I do lots of work in the gym in the winter along with a variety of different efforts on the water all year round.

“When I was at Kingston University, I trained at Royal Canoe Club in Teddington. Obviously it is good to prioritise, but it is very difficult to focus on one thing as there will always be a regret that you haven’t done something else.

“Enjoy what you’re doing”

“The main piece of advice I would give KU students that I’ve always stuck to is quite simple…enjoy what you’re doing.

“It sounds a bit sad, but I didn’t really have too much free time while I was at uni. I was very focused on my kayaking and on some level I do regret that.

“I love Kingston and you can’t really get a lot better than being down by the riverfront on a sunny afternoon.”

What’s next for Ed? He will be coming back to KU to give a talk later this month. He will continue to train, with the four year countdown to Brazil underway.

“To win in Rio I’ll have to paddle faster than all other kayakers in the world. Again.”

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