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An Inspirational Month

Inspirational! It is a term often used casually about personalities both close to us and to those who have achieved fame.  In the age of the ‘reality TV star’ it is rarely used appropriately.  We are all fascinated by fame and there are some extraordinary famous personalities all over the world who can be truly described as ‘inspirational’ but it is surely a fact that many of those people belong to the sporting ‘Hall of Fame’.  In the year of the Olympics we hear the stories of world champions and we hear not just about their glory but about the reality of the training, the dedication and the personal sacrifices that go into achieving that glory.

Imagine hearing about dedication, ambition and success from a Gold Medallist when you are only 5!  Now picture yourself hearing about the training and effort required for sporting success from a Gold Medallist in his GB Rio tracksuit wearing a Gold Medal together with a Bronze Medal that was won in London 2012.  Have I got your full attention?  Well Tom Ransley, our Olympic rower certainly had the attention of every single child in the school and, slightly less surprisingly, every single teacher!  He talked to the children about his own childhood and the sports that he enjoyed as a boy and he then described the pathway to his Olympic success. My favourite part was when Tom was asked about his Bronze Medal.  He described the rowing race and conveyed with his heart on his sleeve, his disappointment as his boat was beaten by two others.  The children listened in hushed awe. What did he do next?  He got back into his boat and tried again.  He studied the success of other sportsmen and learnt from their style how to improve his own and above all he worked harder.  On a training schedule that would defeat most of us just hearing about it let alone giving it a go, he dug a little deeper and it paid off.

We had our own podium set up ready borrowed from Sports Day with its three tiers.  Mrs Pryor our PE teacher asked the children what they would expect to receive for coming 3rd in the Olympics and the correct reply was rewarded with a spot on the podium and a ‘St Christopher’s Bronze’.  The same reward was given for the child who knew the value of the second place award and then the important question about first place was directed to Tom who fortunately knew the answer and assumed his place on the top of the podium only to be awarded one further ‘gold’ St Christopher’s medal which appeared to delight him.

As the children filed out, they had other questions bubbling around and they were intrigued to have had ‘new’ sporting opportunities introduced onto their horizons  for although they had been looking at some filmed gold medal gymnastic performances and were aware of athletics superstars, few had thought about rowing or fencing or even riding….

Cue our guest the following week.  The first female race horse trainer to win the St Ledger race in 240 years!  Lovely Laura Mangan brought along the incredibly light-weight jockey colours and examples of traditional horse shoes to compare with the light-weight aluminium horse shoes used for racing that she also handed round. The children were absolutely delighted to have another impressive trophy to admire and once again impressed us all with the tradition Q and A session at the end of the guest’s talk.

What an inspirational start to the term!

Annie Thackray