Swedish decathlete Björn Barrefors had an illustrious career as a college track star at the University of Nebraska and is now tackling his academic career as a Ph.D. student with equal vigor.
In an exclusive interview, Barrefors revealed how he's adjusting to life as a graduate student and his future career goals.
During the 2012 London Olympics, Barrefors became an overnight Internet sensation after fan tribute websites started popping up online. The only hitch was, Björn did not compete in London. Yet he became one of the most popular athletes that summer due largely to his sizzling good looks.
In 2012, the website BuzzFeed posted a profile of Barrefors entitled "The Hottest Athlete Not Competing In The Olympics." That post immediately went viral. A fake Twitter account set up in his name drew 30,000 followers in two days.
The modest 26-year-old heartthrob, who hails from Stockholm, is amused and flattered by the fan adoration, but takes it in stride.
Barrefors, who was a four-time Academic All-American Decathlete at the University of Nebraska, graduated with a 3.76 GPA in 2013. The 6-foot-1 hottie is now pursuing a doctorate in computer sciences at Nebraska.
Question: You had an incredible collegiate athletic career as a four-time Academic All-American Decathlete, among other highlights. How are you adjusting to your Ph.D. program?
Adjusting to being a student only has been tougher than I thought and something I'm still working on. Sports have been a driving force in everything I do for so many years, when I was a student-athlete it was the thought of being an athlete with high grades that pushed me to study. Now when I'm just another student, the drive to study isn't as easy to find.
Question: Do you still have any plans to compete in the decathlon?
I currently don't have any plans to keep doing the decathlon, my body has suffered from so many years of pushing it to the limit. However, I recently started with physical therapy again to at least be able to do recreational sports, and who knows, if I get healthy again maybe the desire to do decathlon will come back.
Question: You have a lot of fans around the world for someone who's not actively seeking the spotlight. How do you feel about the fan adoration?
As you say I haven't been seeking the spotlight, in fact I have made it a point to rarely post photos to my Twitter. The attention is, of course, flattering, and I honestly still don't know what to think about it. Being an athlete, I like attention, but since the hype became about my looks it came with drawbacks. In the beginning I got a lot of 'inappropriate' tweets and comments, which made me take a distance from the attention. But maybe I should embrace it and become better at communicating with my 'fans.'
Question: What type of diet do you follow?
As an athlete my only diet was to eat as much as I wanted, there was never a risk I would gain weight when burning so many calories. It also helped that I never have been one to eat candy, fast food, or drink pop. I have started cutting down on my portions now, realizing that it's OK to not eat until I feel sick every meal. As with everything in life, I think diets boil down to moderation. If you eat candy stick to a little bit every day.
Question: What type of workouts do you do on a regular basis these days?
I actually don't work out anymore. The first six months after I quit decathlon training I literally didn't go to a gym or run at all. I started doing yoga a couple times a week in October and have been fairly consistent with that. In the beginning I did the tougher classes to get a workout, but now I've switched over to calmer classes focusing more of restoration of both body and mind.
Question: What are you future career goals?
Switching from an athletic career has been a huge transitions, I'm still not sure about my long-term goals. But I will go home to Sweden after I'm done with school and try to get a foot in the industry working with software development. I would also like to travel more around the world just for fun. I've been all over the world as an athlete but seldom just to take it easy.