Oakley is going the distance

Oakley Nilsen running

As a distance runner with a focus on becoming a physiotherapist, Oakley Nilsen thought studying a Bachelor of Health Science then a Master of Physiotherapy at Flinders University would be a good move.

‘I enjoy learning about body systems as this can be applied within my own field of interest,’ says Oakley, who won the Bay Sheffield this year (800m Men) and last year (550m and 800m Under 18 Boys).

He is looking forward to using his degree to help other athletes. ‘I have a particular interest in sports physiotherapy and working with elite level sporting clubs to prevent injuries and reduce injury recovery time. I know personally the impact that injuries can play, and I would like to help other people at all levels to reach their potential and remain free of injury.’


The Flinders University Athlete Development Program has become a perfect complement to his regular training as well as to his current studies.

‘The program is aimed at assisting students in the pursuit of sporting and academic excellence,’ says Wendy Gower, Manager of Sport and Fitness at Flinders.

‘It provides them with access to high-level facilities and training environments, and the support of highly qualified staff in fields such as strength and conditioning, with exercises tailored for individual sporting needs.’

Students can also access specialist health professionals to assist in managing new or existing injuries, or to assess nutritional and dietary requirements.


‘I train and compete with a number of athletes who told me of the benefits and performance enhancement they gained from the program – especially the individualised training,’ says Oakley.

‘I had little experience of gym-based strength and conditioning training beforehand, but knew the benefits it provides, so I jumped at being involved in the program and have not looked back.’

Within the program Oakley tries to complete two 60 to 90-minute strength and conditioning sessions each week, on top of his daily training and running sessions.

He says, ‘Since being in the program, I have become stronger and remained injury free.’

Coaches in the program include exercise and sport science experts Chris Rawling and Alex Hosking.

‘The coaches are extremely knowledgeable. I have learnt about different muscle groups, muscle group attachments and the opposing muscles roles.’

Within five years Oakley hopes to be a registered practising sports physiotherapist and be competing at the annual Open Athletics National Championships.

He says, ‘I have enjoyed every minute of the program. Professionally it will give me an edge, while personally it is improving my performance and allowing me to meet likeminded athletes with similar interests and goals.’

Athlete Development Program:
This program assists the athletic development of enrolled students who have competed at a state, national or international level in their chosen sport. The program aims to improve the athletic performance of the student while they complete their university studies. Learn more

2022 Encounter magazine – Read more

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