Inspiring future Olympians

nrhn 040413'Sprinter Leon Baptiste performs the 'Mo-bot' with pupils from Ripley Mill Hill School.
nrhn 040413'Sprinter Leon Baptiste performs the 'Mo-bot' with pupils from Ripley Mill Hill School.

Mill Hill pupils were given a sprinting mastercalss from the fastest man in Britain when one of the country’s brightest athletics stars visited the school.

Team GB runner Leon Baptiste treated students at the Ripley school to an inspirational talk about his career and his prospects for the future on Tuesday, March 26, as part of a school scheme to inspire pupils to take up sports.

Leon won gold in the 200 metres at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, claiming England’s first Commonwealth sprint gold since 1998.

His greatest ambition was to represent Team GB at London 2012 but a training injury shattered his Olympic dreams.

Now he is preparing to return to the track for the World Championships and is also a mentor with the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative, which sees athletes visit schools and colleges across the UK.

Leon spoke to students at Mill Hill School, in Ripley, about how he has never given up and he also put them through their paces in the gym.

He said: “I hope that my story will inspire young people to never give up on their dreams; with hard work, perseverance and the support of your family you can achieve anything.

“By going into schools like Mill Hill we are helping to continue the legacy of 2012. It doesn’t matter if the students don’t want to be athletes, it’s about working hard and applying themselves and that is relevant to any career.”

Dominic Bestwick, 17, is studying A-level PE at Mill Hill School and listened to Leon’s talk.

He said: “I think he is a really inspiring athlete, it just shows you the determination and discipline that you need to succeed.”

Leon also helped to launch a new OzBox scheme at the school, a boxing fitness scheme developed by Derbyshire police to encourage youngsters to lead healthy lifestyles and improve self-confidence, discipline and fitness.

Melanie Brennan, curriculum leader for PE and health at Mill Hill School, said all the students had thoroughly enjoyed the sprint superstar’s visit.

She said: “His talk is really inspirational and motivational; it illustrates perfectly how you have to put a lot of hard work in to achieve what you want in life. It’s great to have an athlete like Leon coming into school, the students have really responded to him and he really brings the subject matter to life.”

Leon’s visit marks the second the Peasehill school has had from a top athlete in the space of a month as part of the Sky Sports Living for Sports Initiative.

In February Team GB Paralympic wheelchair basketball player Judith Hamer gave an inspirational talk to students at Mill Hill School in Ripley.

Pupils heard how Judith, 21, was born with one leg shorter than the other and after undergoing 18 unsuccessful operations to lengthen her leg, she decided at the age of 15 to have it amputated below the knee. It was only after the surgery that Judith decided to take up sport and became interested in wheelchair basketball, progressing to become part of the GB women’s team before making her Paralymp ic debut at the London 2012 Games.