We had the pleasure of an Olympic gymnast visit us this week. She was in the London Olympics in 2012 and subsequent Commonwealth Games. The students were enthralled with her speaking and display of rhythmic floor gymnastics. She has been working with our PE team in lessons, and some of the girls that she had been working with also displayed their skills. The message that Jade gave out to the students mirrors our own philosophy. One gets success through hard work, not talent. She spoke about how, after the Olympic Games, she took for granted her achievements and therefore didn’t train as hard to make the team, assuming she was an automatic pick. She told the effect it had on her of not being picked and realising that important lesson.
Resilience was another key message that she spoke to the students about. She talked about competing in competitions with a broken foot and overcoming injuries. A question from one of the students asked her what she did when she failed. Her response was that 4,000 people would be watching her, and sometimes mistakes would happen. The point she emphasised was it’s how you respond to mistakes. She informed the students that she would practise 6 hours a day, 6 days a week the same routine. This reminded me of a talk that I once had with Dame Tanni Grey Thompson. She was emphasising the hours throughout her career she spent training – 4, 500 hours a year, for 16 years. This gave her 11 gold medals and 20 world records, however, the hours she spent in races over 16 years equalled 20 minutes on the track. In terms of academic achievement, the same is for the students in secondary in terms of formal exams sat in Years 11 and 13.
We are creating students with the same mindset and philosophy. That they need to build their stamina throughout the year groups, starting in Year 7 for the different races that lie ahead. A key point in Tanni Grey Thompson’s talk was that her success wasn’t just down to her as an individual. It was the team that she had around her. This resonated with me in terms of the expectations for the students and how, as teachers and parents we role model and support them. I am always left questioning how we can support them more, whilst at the same time enable their independent learning skills.