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Sports Therapy graduate turns winning ways into business success

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UEL alumna is now working with elite athletes and has set up her own clinic 

By Lee Pinkerton 

Camilla Smee has hit the ground running since graduating from the University of East London in 2015 with a degree in Sports Therapy.

Not only is she working with elite athletes at the London Aquatics Centre and England Volleyball but she has started her own sports clinic. 

Camilla (pictured with Olympian Tom Daley and the elite Dive London squad) enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy BSc programme in 2012 - the year London hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

UEL’s close involvement with the Games as the host of Team USA’s pre-Olympic training camp convinced Camilla she was in the right place to launch her career as a sports therapist. 

“I knew I would be getting more than just a degree at a university,” said Camilla. “I would be able to gain experiences and contacts that upon graduation might set me apart from the thousands of other graduate sports therapists.”    

When Camilla was coming to the end of her third year, UEL started its Sports Therapy Employability Programme (STEP). It gave her the opportunity to work at the London Aquatics Centre on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford with swimmers on the centre’s high-performance programme.

“Knowing I would be working in the heart of where the historic events of the 2012 Games had taken place, and where some of these Olympians and coaches were now working and training, was incredibly exciting!” she said.

After starting as a graduate sports therapist delivering soft tissue therapy to athletes, her role has developed into a lead role in the London Aquatics Centre clinic, aiding the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries. 

She said, “The swimmers I work with on a weekly basis range from young local talent to Olympic athletes and coaches who competed and worked at London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Games, meaning I got first-hand experience of the ‘Road to Rio’.”

The London Aquatics Centre is also the base for the Dive London team. Through some networking, Camilla was able to gain experience working with the diving squad alongside Gareth Ziyambi, British Diving's head physiotherapist.

In addition, Camilla works with the England women’s volleyball team and travelled to Denmark with the England under-17's women’s volleyball team for an international tournament at the end of 2016.

If that was not enough, Camilla has also started own clinic, Elite Injuries, in Shoeburyness, Essex. The clinic specialises in musculoskeletal injuries, rehabilitation and pain management and she has built up a clientele that includes elite athletes as well as recreational sports enthusiasts 

So what advice does Camilla have for students studying Sports Therapy at university?

“Be proactive and take every opportunity to gain as many experiences as you can,” she said. “Working with a range of different clientele and professionals will really aid your professional development and potentially open up even more opportunities! 

“And don’t be afraid to come out of your comfort zone. Going into the big wide world of employment after graduating can be daunting.

“Once you have graduated do not shy away from new challenging opportunities because, as a therapist you will never know everything

“It is our job in the world of sport and exercise medicine to continuously keep learning and researching for the welfare and benefit of our patients.”