Athlete Feature 02 - Adam Cotton - USA Athletics Scholarships

Athlete Feature 02 – Adam Cotton


We spoke to Birchfield Harrier Adam Cotton before he departs for the European Junior Championships. The Staffordshire athlete talks about his decision to commit to Harvard University. He goes into the European Juniors ranked number 2 over 1500m and with PBs of 3:41 and 1:48 will be one of the quickest ever freshman in the NCAA. (Adam’s Power of 10 profile)

tbUSA – You finished your A-Levels in June 2010. What you have been doing in the 12 months since finishing school?

AC – Since leaving school I have effectively become a full time athlete. Before Christmas I spent 6 weeks out in in Kenya at the HATC in Iten on one of the UKA camps. When I returned I moved into the UKA endurance house in Loughborough so that I could be closer to my new coach John Nuttall.  I then went back up to altitude in April for 3 weeks, this time to Font Romeu.

tbUSA – Why did you decide not to go straight to university? 

AC – I only decided to defer  university on results day itself. I was all set to enroll at Imperial College London in September 2010, but I was also talking to Harvard at that time. I got the grades to go to Imperial, however the Harvard coach told me that he was very confident I would get into Harvard ( it’s not quite as easy to get in due to the lack of sports scholarships in the Ivy League). So I decided to defer my entry to Imperial and take a gap year and wait to get the verdict off Harvard admissions.

tbUSA – Your improvements so far this season have been very impressive. Being one of the fastest juniors in the World this year over 1500m, have you at any point considered turning professional? 

AC – I’m not going to lie. I have thought about it, and I think staying in Loughborough would be best for that, but at 19 you can hardly guarantee you will make it and it is very difficult to turn pro when based in Britain without being on the books of one of the major clothing brands. The main reason I have not taken it too seriously is that I really need to get a degree done at some point and where better  than Harvard. I’m only young so plenty of time to run professionally, even if it does mean doing it whilst still at college. There is still that option if I make any big leaps forward whilst out stateside.

tbUSA – Congratulations on being accepted into one of the top universities in the world. How and when did this opportunity to go to Harvard arise? 

AC – Thank you. Well I was rejected from Oxford at Christmas time during my upper sixth year, so I just emailed the Harvard coach to ask if they offered any sports scholarships. It really just led on from there as I got talking to the coach.

tbUSA – Did you only consider America after not being accepted into Oxford University? Were you recruited by any other American Universities? 

AC – I actually had not been recruited by any other universities. I had only been added by one university coach on facebook.

tbUSA – What influenced your decision to commit to Harvard? Is it ‘Harvard’ you are going for or more of an ‘American experience?’ Who has been influential in helping you make your decision?

AC – It’s because it’s Harvard. I don’t think I would go out to America just for the American experience if I’m completely honest. The only person to influence my decision in any way was probably Ian Stewart. I was talking to the Harvard coach for 6 months before I even mentioned it to my parents. I asked Ian to talk to the coach and check out the set up there as I wanted an honest opinion of the university.  Had he turned round with a less than favourable assessment and told me not to go, there would have been a chance I wouldn’t have gone, but he didn’t so I am all set to go.

tbUSA – You are going to Harvard on an academic rather than athletic scholarship. How much were academics a factor in your decision to head to the US and what do you plan to study at Harvard?

AC – The academics were a big factor  for me. As I was turning down a very good education at Imperial, it needed to be good for me to look to go there. I plan to complete a chemistry degree but I don’t have to chose my major until my secind year so will have to wait and see what I am enjoying the most when out there.

tbUSA – How will being on an academic scholarship affect your obligations to compete for the team? What are your athletic aspirations?

AC – I will obviously join the track team out at Harvard, however as I’m not on a sports scholarship I have no obligations to the team. I will be able to chose what races I do. This will still mean I will get to compete within the NCAA system but have more flexibility over what I compete in. My athletic aspirations are currently changing drastically. The main one is that I am now looking ahead to competing over 1500m instead of my previously preferred 800m. But the most important thing for me at the moment is to make sure I make the transition from the Junior ranks through to the seniors as I don’t want to be one of the many juniors who do not go on to run any quicker.

tbUSA – With the Olympics barely a year away, how do you intend to give yourself the best possible chance of qualifying for the Great Britain Team? Will you compete in full NCAA seasons next year?

AC – I actaully intend on keeping my current coach John Nuttall for my first year as training and racing this year has just gone so well. I know for certain that I will not compete in a full outdoor season but will have to wait to see which races John wants me to do.

Comments are closed.