Fast running, long jumping – it’s one big story…

I don’t know that person in red, but they are having a great time 🙂

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to have tickets to the opening session of the Athletics at the Olympics – an experience that will not be forgotten any time soon. The crowd, the atmosphere, the support for our own athletes – most of which coming from people who had most likely never seen live athletics before – actually made me pretty emotional.

I have read headlines, and seen endless tweets about how through this Olympics, more than ever, our athletes, and sportsmen and women from all over the world, are developing as real role models for a next generation of children. Firstly, I really hope it happens. Secondly, it got me thinking about my own childhood and my sporting heroes.

Okay, so I come from a sporting family. My dad is a Club Athletics Coach, and has given up thousands of weekends, evenings and summer holidays coaching, and attending athletics meetings all over the country (and occasionally world!). My Mum used to be an active badminton player, and coached netball and rounders at my primary school. So for me, sport – and the values surrounding it – have always been a big part of my life. My family gathered round the TV for every Olympics, Athletics World Champs, Wimbledon finals and even Ski Sunday!

My role models when growing up weren’t celebrities, they were mostly sports men and women. Athletes like Carl Lewis, Sally Gunnell, Kelly Holmes and Flo-Jo (those nails!); Tennis players – Arancha Sanchez Vicario and Monica Hingis, Ice-Skaters – Torvil and Dean and Tonya Harding (who will forget that scandal with Nancy Kerrigan!)…the list goes on. Those heroes, and their stories, (along with the nudge from my family), inspired me to try a variety of sports when I was young – athletics being one of them. Training on a wet evening was easier if you imagined you were running the home straight for Team GB in the Olympics! I can only imagine how many childhood dreams are being played out right now in the Olympic Stadium by our sports stars.

I think what comes through when athletes are being interviewed, or when you see how emotional they are about winning, or losing, a medal – you realize that sport is one big story. The ups and downs, the commitment, the pain, the heroes and villains – they all create story legacies that will hopefully inspire many. For me, it worked. And while I might not have ended up a sports star (oh well) – I learned so many key life skills by taking part in sport. (And I remember it being pretty useful for meeting boys too in teenage years…ahem!)

For many parents and children watching the games, I really hope it is working. Anyone wanting to give Athletics a go, it is very easy, and you don’t need much to take part. You probably have a club somewhere around the corner, and pretty much all of them welcome absolute beginners from about the age of 11. Check out the UK Athletics website for clubs and schemes about how to get involved (and honestly, it isn’t expensive!).

For those reading, I’d love to know who’s sporting story has inspired you in this Olympics, or in the past when you were growing up? And if you need inspiration (or a bit of a cry!), watch this video (thanks BBC for reminding me of this!) of Derek Redmond trying to finish the 400m at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 *sobs*….


4 responses to “Fast running, long jumping – it’s one big story…

  1. We were a sporting family, too. I played soccer (football) from the age of four, as did my brother. My dad was my coach, which meant I ran more punishment laps than anyone. Athletics was never a possibility for me because my endurance was awful. (I was the goalie.)

    I will never forget my soccer team losing to our rivals in the finals of our major tournament in a shoot out. (Repeat: I was the goalie.) I can still remember lying face-down in the goal box in the mud sobbing. Completely heart-broken, refused to take our team friendship bracelet off for the rest of the year.

    My sports hero growing up was a baseball player Jose Cruz… mostly because he was a bit cheeky and his name was fun to say. The announcers always said Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuz!

    The same as you, doing sports did help meeting boys because I knew all the rules to all the major sports (no, cricket is NOT a major sport) and my brother was a fanatic so I knew most players’ names. Also, I think it gave me a bit of confidence.

    The biggest skill I got from sport was (yes, it’s cliche) working as a team. Athletics is a solo sport, which teaches discipline and focus — but team sports give you that “common goal” drive, and working with people that you wouldn’t necessarily choose to be with.

    • Ah, sad story! I always feel for the goalie in a penalty shoot-out Sara!

      Actually, in most cases Athletics is a team sport, when it comes to clubs comps. Athletes get scored based on performance and then tallied up at the end – best club performance wins. That’s what spurred me on when competing actually – not letting my team down. It also meant that every competitor that took part was getting points for the club, regardless of how they performed. Then it really was the taking part that counted see!

  2. beccawearsredwellies

    When I was about 13 we went on a school trip to the National Portrait Gallery where they had an exhibition of black and white photographs of sporting heroes. One of the photos was of Alex Danson – my sporting hero, she’s about 3 years older than me and had just got picked to play for England at the age of 16 breaking all sorts of records. I idolised her – and even though I’ve not reached the heights of Olympic glory (yet) I’m still a sporting fanatic – I’ve won Gold Medals (presented by John Inverdale), got relegated, been promoted, scored great goals and missed some shockers.

    I’ll (probably) never know what it feels to don a GB shirt but I think most sports people experience THAT moment of stomach churning, heart racing, dread and fear as they step up to face a huge game – mine were the annual Cambridge Oxford Varsity hockey matches played in front of huge crowds with score boards and ball boys and even a national anthem. The actual game was almost a side show to the preparation, drinking ban, formal breakfasts, rituals and suit wearing. In my last game I had to come off after 5 minutes for a bit of a cry I was so nervous – but then went back on and got stuck in! We drew but that was the best result for 17 years and so it was a mini victory (we should have won.)

    So when I see the GB players strutting their stuff I’m kind of half in awe, half in an apoplexy of jealousy and I’ve already joined up for next year with a new club… watch out Rio!

  3. Great blog Sarah. Believe it or not I still coach netball and rounders at the school. The children enjoy it so much it spurs me on.

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