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Life as an Athlete and Sport Management Student - Léa Sprunger

Life as an Olympic athlete is thrilling -- competing in the sport you love and getting to travel the world. But, compared to a whole career, the time you spend as an professional athlete is not that long. So athletes in the 30s typically start looking for what comes next. The good news is there are many careers in sports business for those former athletes who still want to be part of the action, like former Olympic sprinter Léa Sprunger, who is now a businesswoman, speaker, influencer, and student on the Master in Sport Management at the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. We sat down for a chat with the 31-year-old about her athletic career, her studies, and how she is combining the two....

Jan 20, 2022
  • Education
Life as an Athlete and Sport Management Student - Léa Sprunger

What are your main achievements in sport?

My name is Léa Sprunger. I was a professional athlete for 15 years, twice European Champion, once outdoor in Berlin 2018 - my most significant achievement - and 400 meters at the European Athletics Indoor Championships. I've been to three Olympics and reached two world finals. The best ranking I had was fourth at the World Championships. In Switzerland, I have many Swiss records over different events, including 400m hurdles, 200m, and 400m, and I also contributed as a captain of the 4x100m team. I retired after the Olympics in Tokyo and now I am back in Lausanne, following my passion by continuing education in sport.

Now I'm studying at the AISTS, and I was lucky to receive the scholarship from the AISTS and Swiss Olympic. Besides that, I am working at the Athletissima Diamond League, which keeps me busy, combining work and study simultaneously.

It's one big family at the Athletissima and it's a good way for me to stay in the track family by working with them. As soon as the season starts, I'll be more in contact with the key people who can keep my feet in the sport and I will have the opportunity to be involved in the side events by working with the younger generation. That keeps me lively because I have realized how sports offer many things in terms of emotions and understanding who you are. It's the greatest pleasure for me by being part of track and field. I became the woman I am today and I support the younger generation to have that opportunity as I did.

If you could describe the education you get at AISTS, what would you say?

It's comprehensive what we study. It's not just one specific aspect of sports. We go through many domains, like technology, marketing, medicine, law. After one year of studying, we have an overview in sports management, which opens many doors in the sport industry. While we have regular professors, I also like the fact we have sports experts at the AISTS to share their knowledge. This is where we learn the most.

We have had multiple great people. I especially liked a representative of a Swiss brand that sponsors skiing. There were a lot of facts and examples we could glimpse the effect and the whole procedure of the business. Also, we had an opportunity to visit the Omega factory and to the IOC, at the heart of sport.

I think one of the strengths of the AISTS is the connections they have, located in Lausanne - the Olympic Capital, and a lot of events happening around in sport. The networks we build are powerful and rich in opportunities. The education we receive is dynamic; I am enjoying all the lectures and every hour of what we have studied. I think only the AISTS can offer that.

How is sport important for society? What can it do for societies and individuals?

I think sport is all about emotions and energy as you connect with a group, yourself, your family, and others. Even if your team is losing, the feeling you experience is the same. Indeed, there are some wrong sides to sports. Still, I think sport is essential to societies and individuals as it can drive a lot of positive values and identification to an athlete, which can be helpful to everyone.

Are there any standout moments that you've experienced on the course?

All the time we have had outside of class has been fantastic. For example, Omega, IOC, and the World Archery Excellence Centre. Even though I know Omega by heart as they are a great supporter and sponsor, we had an inspiring speech from the CEO, Raynald Aeschlimann, explaining the mentality and work ethic at the factory, the vision of the brand itself and toward the Olympic Movement as an official timekeeper at the Olympics. The visit to the IOC was brilliant. As we have two Olympians in the class [Léa Sprunger herself and Olympic gymnast Elisa Hämmerle], we were allowed to sign the Olympian Wall. The AISTS has allowed me to make a historical memory to get the diploma that we are officially Olympians. We got the diploma from the hands of Thomas Bach [President of the International Olympic Committee].

Lea Sprunger signing the Olympic wall at the IOC

Article written in association with AISTS.

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AISTS - International Academy of Sport Science and Technology
Joel Durston


Content Manager at Keystone Education Group, living and working in Oslo, Norway. I love helping prospective international students find their dream degree, university, and study destination through articles like these and social media. Outside of work, I enjoy sports, especially football and racket sports, and seeing the world.