On the 14th of January, fourteen pupils from Banchory Academy took part in the first
of a series of interactive sessions with GB under-23 rower Iona Riley. Iona came
to speak to the pupils as part of her role with Champions In Schools. This is a role-model
programme that places top Scottish athletes in schools across the country, enabling
them to inspire and encourage young people to fulfil their potential. Organised by
the charity Winning Scotland Foundation, athletes use sport to educate and encourage
pupils on how to set and achieve goals; pursue a healthy and active lifestyle; appreciate
the value of hard work; and, adopt a positive, winning attitude.
During their first session, Banchory pupils heard Iona’s story from under 14 national
schools success, through to under-23 silver for GB at the 2013 World Rowing Championships.
Iona talked about how sport had given her many opportunities to travel; given her
friends for life; participate in something she loves; and strive to win and be the
Pupils did some group work thinking about what sport means to them and what success
is: it’s not just about winning (although that is a huge driver for many sportspeople),
but about trying your best, achieving PBs, trying something new, and how these definitions
of success can be the same in their academic or working life.
Iona typically has 15 training sessions per week, with a mixture of strength and
conditioning, dry sessions and being out on the water too. She is currently in the
4th year of her university degree and also juggles these commitments with working
part-time as a coach. This resonated well with many of the pupils, who themselves
have busy training schedules on top of their academic commitments. Iona talked about
losing aspects of her personal life, but gaining enjoyment from doing something that
she loves and the dedication and commitment that is required.
Pupils were given the chance to ask questions, ranging from how much her boat costs
(about £9000); how much do you eat (just under 3000 calories a day during full competition
training); to, what was the hardest thing she has had to overcome (missing a whole
season due to injury); and, what are her current goals (to get back from injury;
and long term to aim for Tokyo 2020).
The sessions were set up through the PE department and Active Schools, and Iona will
be returning later in the term to talk about goal setting and overcoming failures.
John Dixon, Active Schools Coordinator (Banchory Primaries and Academy)