Case study

Managing time as a champion athlete and as a student engineer

As a student-athlete, Lyddia Cheah Yi Yu had to learn how to balance time so that she could achieve both academically and in her sport. Discover her journey that began after she was awarded a badminton scholarship at the University.

Being a champion

I was born in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. I completed an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and now I am studying a postgraduate degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. Prior to moving to the UK, I trained at the National Badminton Center in Malaysia and I first represented Malaysia at the age of 13 years old and continued to do so until I was 24 years old.

It was a great honour to represent my country and travel the world doing something I loved to do. I participated in numerous prestigious international tournaments such as Commonwealth Games, Asia Games, South East Asia (SEA) Game, World Championship, World University Game, etc.

My biggest achievement was winning gold in the Commonwealth Games representing Malaysia. During my time at the University of Derby, I represented Team Derby in the national league and in the University leagues and tournaments. During my time at Derby, I won seven British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) medals and four league titles. 

A new country, a new challenge 

I have been through a transformational journey. I used to be a professional athlete and focussed solely on being the best athlete I could be. Then as a student-athlete, I had to balance my time to achieve in my sport and academically. I travelled from a familiar place in Malaysia to live and study in a new country and came from a totally different culture.

At first, it was difficult to be away from my family but with sport, walking into a training environment or a coaching session I was surrounded by like-minded people and I soon felt at home with this group of players. 

Badminton scholar, Lyddia Cheah Yi Yu, wearing a Team Derby t-shirt.

Lecturers at the University of Derby support students to excel both in sports and academically. They are always there to help if you experience any difficulty. 

Lyddia Cheah Yi Yu
Badminton Scholar

The Derby support system

All the staff were very accommodating and supportive, allowing me to continue my training, as well as studying full time to become a qualified engineer. My lecturers were very understanding of my goals - at times, training and competing could be very intense and time-consuming and they provided additional support when appropriate.

The Team Derby staff were extremely supportive, and I was always able to have a chat with them about how I was feeling regardless of how busy they were. Their advice was always appreciated and being made to feel supported was great.

NBL Team Derby vs Birmingham Lions Monday 28th November held at the University of Derby Sports Centre. Lyddia Cheah Yi Yu batting the shuttlecock.
NBL Team Derby vs Birmingham Lions Monday 28th November held at the University of Derby Sports Centre. Lyddia in mid air, jumping to take a shot.
NBL Team Derby vs Bristol Jets Monday 7th November held at the University of Derby Sports Centre. Lyddia clasps hands with their competitor over the net.

Achieving goals as a scholar 

The scholarship was a great financial help - without it, it would have been difficult to work towards both my goals and study in Derby. I stayed in Flamstead Court, accommodation mainly available to postgraduate students and for sports scholars. It was the perfect location for me to get to training just five minutes away at the Sports Centre and close to lectures too.

Furthermore, being a scholar gave me great support in my training - on-court with my coach to improve my game and a gym membership which allowed me to access additional training whenever I needed it. Physiotherapy support assisted my recovery from injury and ensured I was available as much as possible to compete. And most importantly as a scholar, Team Derby looked after my wellbeing during my days in the UK and gave me full support if I needed help.

Discipline and routine 

Time management was one of the key elements to this. Be disciplined. I always set a routine and short goals for myself. Don’t leave everything till the last minute, set a priority list, start early and don’t leave everything till the last minute. Constantly keep track of your progress.

What's next? 

Having completed my Master's at the University of Derby my ambition is to secure a job with a global company based in the UK.

Student on a bike in the performance suite at the Sports Centre.

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