Nick Nieland, a Morgan Stanley pharmaceuticals analyst, captured the inaugural award for the London financial community's top athlete after winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal in the javelin.
Nieland beat out competition from five other nominees yesterday, including a tax manager at KPMG LLP who was England's top try-scorer in the women's rugby World Cup, and a senior partner at Clydesdale Bank who is the most prolific striker for England's blind soccer team. „I'm probably one of the only people at a high level in athletics who does work fulltime, certainly with a challenging job,” Nieland, who turns 35 next month, said in a television interview at the Square Mile Sport Awards.
„It's nice to be recognized.” As merger transactions in Europe have surged to a record $1.6 trillion so far this year, many elite athletes in what is known as the City rely on the flexibility of their employers to allow them to hone their sporting skills.
The volume and intensity of work also means employees increasingly need an avenue to let off steam, according to Clydesdale's David Clarke. „There's a lot of great sport going on,” said Clarke, who has been the top scorer at the past three European blind soccer championships. „To get the endorphins going and get the zest in your day, playing sport is very important, especially if you are working in a team.”
Nieland has just completed his most successful year as an athlete, winning one of England's 36 gold medals at this year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and reaching the final of the European Championships. He's ranked No. 1 in Britain after a season's best throw of 84.70 meters (92.6 yards) - 6.89 meters short of the longest throw this year. In a business where colleagues tend to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Nieland said Morgan Stanley allows him to catch up on his research at home if he's training during the day.
„It takes good planning and having a flexible target,” said Nieland, who is aiming for a fourth Olympic appearance at the Beijing 2008 Games. He celebrated his award at the firm's Christmas party yesterday, appearing with his fellow pharmaceuticals analysts dressed in banana suits. The other finalists are involved in sports in which teamwork is key.
Nick Brothers, who works on Deutsche Bank AG's global equity derivatives desk, is England's field hockey goalkeeper and helped the team finish fifth at this year's World Cup. James Lindsay-Fynn, part of the global markets team at Bank of America Corp., won a bronze medal in the lightweight double sculls at the rowing World Cup. Chris McLaughlin, vice president of investor relations at Inmarsat Plc, won a bronze medal at the world sailing championships in Melbourne and his crew retained its J24 class European title.
Accounting firm KPMG's Sue Day helped England to a „Grand Slam” by winning all its matches in the women's Six Nations rugby tournament. Sports skills are directly transferable to the workplace, she said. „There's dedication, leadership, ability under pressure, setting goals,” said Day, whose team lost in the World Cup final to New Zealand. „Teamwork is obviously important, as is the ability to accept feedback.”
While Nieland was the only contender in an individual sport, he said there are several aspects of taking part in a major track and field event that relate to the workplace. „You get people doing absolutely the best they can and competing the best they can, and that's what athletics is all about,” he said. „You're making the best of the talent you've been born with.” (Bloomberg)