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SAIT welcomes a new instructor, Joshua Riker-Fox, an Olympian in modern pentathlon.

SAIT has welcomed a new instructor, Joshua Riker-Fox, an Olympian in modern pentathlon.

It's common to search online for someone before meeting them. That's what a number of students enrolled in Marketing Essentials did when they found out they'd be taught by an instructor new to SAIT's School of Business.

While the instructor's credentials are impressive — bachelor degrees in commerce and kinesiology, as well as a Master of Business Administration — his education is not what appears first in a Google search.

Joshua Riker-Fox is an Olympian in modern pentathlon — a sport comprised of fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, running and pistol shooting.

Prior to his Olympic debut in 2008, Riker-Fox competed in several Pan American Games, winning bronze in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro. As a result, he earned a spot on Team Canada in the Beijing Olympics, where he placed 24th — the best finish by a Canadian male to date.

In fact, the sport was without a Canadian male competitor for 16 years. With only 36 modern pentathlon spots for men internationally, Riker-Fox acknowledges it is extremely difficult to qualify.

Planning to watch the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea closely, Riker-Fox says it brings back memories from his own Olympic experience. Even 10 years later, he struggles to find the words to describe the "life-changing" experience.

"I didn't fulfil all of my goals in my career, but I checked a lot of boxes," says Riker-Fox, who retired from the sport in 2015 after Toronto's Pan American Games. "Unless you win a gold medal or set a world record, you leave your last competition or your last Games wanting more."

Connection comes full circle

A significant portion of Riker-Fox's training during his youth took place in SAIT's Campus Centre. From the scent of chlorine in the swimming pool to the colour of the brick on the building, the nostalgia for the Olympian is significant.

Surprisingly, his SAIT connection runs even deeper.

"Nearly 50 years ago, my dad was the president of the SAIT Students' Association and took Business Administration at SAIT — the same stream that I am teaching now," says Riker-Fox. "He's really pleased that the school which had a big impact on his life, and that he played a leadership role within, is now a place I am instructing."

The next chapter

Hoping to raise its profile and give back to the sport that opened numerous doors for him, the Olympian has been honing his teaching skills as a coach with Ares Pentathlon & Fencing Club in Calgary. The skills he's implemented as a coach and throughout his training, coupled with his degrees and MBA, make his new career at SAIT a great fit.

"In sports and in business, the metaphors are never-ending," he says, adding, "I just want my students to know perseverance and dedication trumps everything."

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