From understanding comes strength



Photo Credit: Ray Barnes

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 best.

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)

Champions In Schools