You might have noticed the running joke (no pun intended) in many of my Try Athlete blog posts.
It is when I get an Olympian (Paralympian Libby Clegg below)or coach to announce me as their Star Pupil. Along with water fountains on Instagram, it has become “my thing”. Plus, it annoys the boys and if that is not my main purpose on earth, I do not know what is.
However, today, I decided to leave Star Pupil at home as I was training with some genuine star pupils. The boys and girls at the Glasgow School of Sport
Glasgow Life had invited me along to the Emirates Arena to watch the athletics class in action and to find out a little more about the School of Sport.
The Glasgow School of Sport, opened in 1999 and located within Bellahouston Academy has approximately 120 students and their academic curriculum is balanced to allow them to develop their sporting talents in athletics, badminton, hockey (no doubt sticking it to the man), gymnastics and swimming. Entry to the school is by application and rarely a child with promise or drive is turned away with children attending from all over the West of Scotland. With around a third of Team GB medalists coming from fee paying schools, establishing the School of Sport within a state school is not only a great thing to do, but also the right thing to do.
While the likes of Michael Jamieson, Kirsty Gilmour and William Marshall have excelled in swimming, badminton and hockey respectively, I was at the Emirates Arena to watch and train with some future stars of track and field.
The School of Sport does not push the students into specialising too early and instead encourages a blended and multisport approach for all the reasons below:
However, they do allow the students to focus on sports that they enjoy in the second term of school and first up for me was the long jump (or short jump in my case).
I watched in admiration as second year student Harris demonstrated his technique and as first year Cameron did her very best to show the boys that #thisgirlcan
They made it look so easy and with a little encouragement from coach David, I decided to take centre stage (a la Jack Black).
I had watched how they prepared; how they powerfully strode across the track and how they propelled themselves into the air and onto the sand.
How hard could it possibly be?
Yes, my arms were flailing and yes, despite have marginally longer legs, my strides were shorter, but I did manage to alternate foot landings and I did land in the sand, even if it was face first….
I had completed my first ever long jump (I somehow missed it at school) and the students did not burst out laughing or look at me with sympathy or disgust.
Or maybe they did, as at this point, I was fully grasping why they sat down after every jump and drank water. I was just a tad breathless. Now, I am not currently in the best of shape, but I do now better appreciate the effort required in the long jump.
I then strolled over to watch 12 (maybe 13) year old Connor practicing the high jump and it was a thing of beauty.
It also happened to be a new personal best of 1 metre 65 and only 1cm from equalling the Scottish Record and once again, he made it look far too easy. Rather than go higher, his coach Eva suggested that he end this session on a high and he showed great maturity in accepting this. Connor McNally. Remember that name
I finished off by chatting to a few middle distance runners, Cameron and Forbes, who were far from camera shy and had that little spark of cheekiness adored in 11 and 12 year olds, but often frowned upon in 45 year old men (or so Teresa, my girlfriend tells me) before leaving the arena hugely impressed by the athletes and the coaches while also feeling a little bit of regret. Sport was never my thing at school and watching these smiling, confident and talented kids made me momentarily think about my past and missed opportunities.
However, we should be looking towards the future and in only seven months, we should be able to see some School of Sport graduates rocking onto the stages of the European Championships that will be held in Glasgow from 2nd-12th August. You can buy tickets HERE