'I thought she'd go into a management job': teachers reflect on their Olympic medal-winning pupils

17th August 2016 at 16:21
olympics, teachers, medal winners, athletes, pe, results, sports
What is it like to teach an Olympic medal-winner? Here, two teachers of Rio 2016 medallists talk about their experiences

Throughout the summer, teachers across the country have been nervously anticipating their pupils’ results. But, for some teachers, those results are higher-profile than others.

TES has been speaking with the teachers who taught Olympic athletes currently competing in Rio, as their former pupils triumphed for Team GB.

The rower

Home-economics teacher Jenny Jones taught double sculls silver medallist Victoria Thornley, 28, at Abbey Gate College in Chester

“Vicky was in my form from Year 8 to Year 11. She was very popular. Very competitive, both academically and sporting. We didn’t do rowing in school, but she was involved in showjumping at that point.

"She really did excel across the board. She was a very capable pupil. She was part of a social group – 'My Girls', I called them – who were very, very focused on their work. So they all pushed each other. They were always wanting to work hard and achieve. It was friendly competition.

"She’s always been a tall pupil. She played hockey and netball at school, and took part in athletics. And she was on school teams, definitely.

"I suppose I’d thought she would go into a management job of some sort – working with people. She’s that sort of person. She was always very focused and determined, and I think this has come out in the rowing. If there was something she wanted, she would go for it.

"It’s amazing what they grow up and do. All you can think is: 'Wow. I taught her once, and look what she’s gone on to do.'”

Victoria Thornley rower

Victoria Thornley, left, with Katherine Grainger after picking up silver in the double sculls in Rio. Photo: Getty Images

The diver

Dave Green is maths teacher at The Willink School in Reading, where synchronised diving gold medallist Chris Mears, 23, went to school.

“I taught Chris maths in Year 8. I always got on well with him – he always got on well with everybody, I think.

"He left in 2009, and we’ve always tried to keep in touch with him. We try to get him to come and do our prizegivings, but they’re always in July, when he’s training for something.

“His brother has just done his GCSEs with us. He’s not sporty in the same way Chris is. Chris did GCSE PE, but I think his brother’s better at drama and things like that.”

Chris Mears

Chris Mears, right, and Jack Laugher won the synchronised 3m springboard event. Photo: Getty Images

To read more interviews with the teachers of some of Team GB's biggest stars, pick up a copy of Friday's TES magazine. Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook


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