Gold medallist puts kids through their paces
OLYMPIC champion Jason Gardener gave pupils at Ellis Guilford School and Sports College a masterclass in sprinting as they welcomed Lloyds TSB's National School Sport Week and the Olympic Torch.
Gardener, a Youth Sport Trust ambassador, put eight children through their paces in the 100m to kick off proceedings in Nottingham - the day the flame arrived in the city.
Then, as part of the celebration of sport, Ellis Guilford welcomed the Torch for a special tour of the school, with Lloyds TSB Local Heroes Sam Van De Schootbrugge and Sasha Matthews the Torchbearers.
More than 1,500 children from eight schools were there to mark the occasion and Gardener, who won 4x100m gold in Athens in 2004, believes the day will stay with the youngsters for the rest of their lives.
"The opportunity to work with young schoolchildren in sport is great, and the opportunity for them to work with an Olympic champion doesn't happen every day and it's great to help them," said Gardener.
"You never know if we've witnessed a future Olympian here. I've been really fortunate as a Youth Sport Trust ambassador to travel the country and I've seen some really talented young kids.
"Sometimes some kids really shine, their talent oozes out, but sometimes that's not enough. Sometimes it's the ones who don't quite win but have got the attitude and determination to improve their other areas that succeed.
"That's the message I was trying to put across, I wasn't the best at school, but I did have the attitude to train hard and persevere and achieved the greatest thing in my sport, an Olympic gold medal.
"It's about building confidence and giving children an opportunity to enjoy different things, whether it's on the sports field or any other subject. But sport gives some many great opportunities, particularly in this day and age."
National School Sport Week is an annual five-day celebration of PE and sport with thousands of schools and colleges across the UK taking part in the Get Set Education Programme.
And as National Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, Lloyds TSB is bringing the inspiration of the Olympic Flame closer to communities across the UK.
Up-and-coming swimmer Matthews was the first Local Hero to get her hands on the Torch and she admits the privilege is yet to fully sink in.
She added: "It's a great honour, there are so many people who wanted to do something like this and I got that opportunity to capture this moment.
"It's not what I expected at all, I didn't realise how many people that it really affected and so many have shown up in such great spirit.
"It's going to be such a great year for Great Britain and these kids seem to really appreciate that."
Fellow Nova Centurion member Van De Schootbrugge was also overwhelmed by the occasion.
He said: "It's absolutely amazing, just to be carrying the flame is awesome but to see all the support was mind-blowing and it's nice to see family and friends as well, it brings a tear to my eye really because it's so nice and such an honour.
"I wasn't expecting such a turnout, but coming on the bus on the way here and seeing people lining the streets was unbelievable. It's great for everybody to come out and support and it's really appreciated by us."
With a sports day also taking place on the school's playing field, director of sport at Ellis Guilford Sam Roper had his work cut out but insists the effort was well worth it.
He said: "It's been a real achievement for the school and something we've been looking forward to, but I think more importantly it's been a fantastic opportunity for the students here to be part of the Olympic legacy.
"They'll look back on this in a few years' time when they've left school and they can say I was actually there at my school when the Torch arrived."
And Year 8 pupil Anthony Berrington admits the chance to work with one of his idols, Gardener, was a dream come true.
"It has been amazing, it's brilliant for the whole school," said the 13-year-old. "Having the Olympic Torch is a big event, it has been really good. I was shocked it was the real thing.
"We got to work with Jason Gardener. We did some training with him and we learnt all about his history. He was a very good teacher!"
Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week took place from 25-29 June 2012 and is Britain's biggest school sport event with more than four million pupils staging their own Games this year. Find out more at lloydstsb.com/london2012
(c) Sportsbeat 2012