Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes visited Greendown Community School on 19 November to celebrate Swindon schools reaching the Government target of 85 per cent of children participating in two hours of PE and school sport.
Some 300 children from over 40 secondary, primary and special schools spent a day being active at Greendown. Kelly launched her visit by speaking at an assembly after a enthusiastic cheerleading routine by Greendown pupils, before touring activities in the school’s sports halls.
She joined with activities, hall curling with children from Uplands Special School, target frisbee throwing with children from Liden primary and enthusiastically spent 10 minutes boxercising with Greendown pupils, taking over the class to show how to throw a good punch.
She willingly lined up with children from primary, secondary and special schools and allowed them to touch her coveted gold medals from the 2004 Athens Olympics. She said, “I remember when I came back from Athens the reaction from people was so great. Wherever I went they told me where they were when I won my races. When you're preparing for something like the Olympics you don't really know what's going on outside the training camp. It seemed like they had run the races with me.
"I feel the medals belong to them as much as to me. I wouldn’t want them to be kept all pristine and untouched. I hope they will inspire kids in Swindon from my visit.
"I admit I didn't do that well at school because I just wanted to get outside and do sports and things like Duke of Edinburgh. It's one of the reasons that I tour schools now – to talk to children about doing well in whatever interests them, and pursuing sporting activity in some shape or form. It's great kids have the chance to do things like cheerleading and aerobic classes. They get confidence, self-esteem, develop self-awareness and improved communication skills."
Greendown Year 10 sports leaders, who worked with primary schools at the sports day, were impressed by Kelly's eager participation in activities. "She was really down to earth and easy to talk to," said Bethanie Pugh. "She told us we were doing a good job working with the primary children."
Andy Steckbeck of the Swindon School Sport Partnership explained the Olympian’s visit was a wonderful inspiration for youngsters across the town. “Two years ago sports participation in Swindon schools was just 65 per cent. All the schools have done a great job to raise this to 86 per cent; it’s a massive achievement.”
Christian Dobbs, Greendown's director of sport, said, "the day was a fantastic opportunity to meet such an inspirational woman. Kelly was excellent with the pupils and had time for everyone.
"Young people need stars and big names to look up to as role models. The visit by Kelly today will inspire many now and in future years. Pupils will remember this moment for years."