Sports stars of the future were shown the way to a golden career by an Olympic champion who visited Spalding just before Christmas.
Gold medal rower Anna Watkins was the star guest at Spalding High School’s end-of-term prizegiving ceremony last Friday when students and staff queued with excitement to get an autograph or photograph with the London 2012 heroine.
Mrs Watkins spent about four hours giving tips to the school’s top sports performers and fielding questions about her all-conquering partnership with Katherine Grainger who together have a 23-race unbeaten record in the double skulls event.
Staff, school governors and visitors also had the chance to meet Mrs Watkins over lunch before she gave an inspiring talk about her career on the water in front of a packed school hall.
She said: “I remember sitting on the start line in the Olympic final just waiting for the race to start and the nerves had gone by that point.
“Then I remember sitting in the boat straight after we had crossed the finish line and there was so much noise, it was mind-blowing and life-changing.
“I think I was in a little bit of a whirl because for the first part of the year, myself and Katherine were in a little bubble with our training.
“So for us to then explode out onto the world stage and realise we were part of something bigger was amazing.”
Mrs Watkins said she was undecided about her own future but hoped to see future sports stars emerge from Spalding High School.
“I know I’m never going to top London 2012, so I have to look for other challenges and know in my own mind what I want to do,” she added.
“I just hope the students try everything in sport, then pick something and throw themselves into it.
“Then if they’re really lucky, someone will come up to them and say ‘I believe in you.’”
Headmaster Tim Clark said: “When we were planning our prize-giving ceremony, we decided to try and get hold of an Olympian.
“Anna said yes straight away and she was absolutely tremendous in talking to the pupils, staff, governors and visitors.
“She was such a natural person, incredibly committed to what she does, incredibly successful and yet so modest about it.”