My school visit to Weydon School, Surrey will undoubtedly be my last one for a while.
It’s a shame to write that, but until we stem the spread of this COVID19 coronavirus, there’s a new normal.
Anyway, it was a fun day of mental and physical exertion. We started with a workshop discussing the talent myth and identifying numerous other factors contributing to excellence in sports and life, led by Vistage member and business coach, Paul Adlam.
Students participating had been hand-picked by staff at the school as most likely to benefit from this opportunity due to their already high standard of success in sports.
So this carefully-selected group of around 30-35 students ranging from years 8-10 (age 12-15) made a concerted effort to participate and engage in the activities and conversation, scribbling notes as they voraciously devoured and hopefully fully digested new information to support their transition from junior sports success to the elite echelons of their sports, podium positions and potential Olympic status.
I contributed to this discussion on sporting excellence through the lens of my own experiences. The students were aware of the importance of building a healthy mindset to succeed, particularly when faced with challenges such as injury or non-selection.
It was gratifying to hear the positive response that followed this workshop on Overcoming Obstacles; students were shocked to hear how many setbacks I’d faced and how, despite all of this, I still persevered (minus my retirement blip!)
I also left them with a few quick tips on how to respond to negative situations in life to improve your chances of alleviating the negative fallout and even producing a positive result (E.g. I’m sure you’re currently reading about how famous historical figures in science and the arts created their best inventions and works during their darkest times)!
For me, the result of facing big challenges was I learned what not to do in the face of adversity (2012-14) and what to do (2014-16).
And now I’m back to beyond my best – British Champion, 7th in the world and pending Team GB Tokyo 2020 Olympic representative and more!
As the final act, ten of the best student-athletes were then chosen for a long jump masterclass with me.
We kicked off with warm up, drills and skills on their 4-lane 100m track and then walked across to the sand pit for some short approach jumps.
Overall, a really fun day where both myself and the students made the most of this opportunity to learn and grow in excellence and resilience.
And if you know me, you’ll know that’s what I’m all about!
P.s. Once we are globally back to full health, I’d like to continue inspiring the next generation. As part of my agreement with UK Sport, I am excited to offer a number of free school or community club visits. Want me to visit your school or club? Get involved.