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Friday, 16 January 2015
Siân Pledger returned to the Girls’ Division to talk to a small group of girls who have been selected for the talented athlete programme. As a recent leaver who has followed her sport and forged her own path, this was a particularly interesting session.
To open the talk, Siân discussed how many athletes will put their sport first and everything else second – from academic study to spending time with friends and family – and said that finding the right balance is difficult. However, she emphasised that although she takes her sport seriously, when the time came to do her GCSEs and A Levels she had to prioritise them because they are important.
Siân’s talk was titled ‘Chasing Dreams’ and this is certainly something she has done. She talked about how she did not conform to the “Bolton School template” of GCSEs, A Levels, University in the UK and a career. Instead, she took a gap year at 16 and moved to Malta to train with her coach. After returning to the UK for her A Levels, she decided to move to Malta again. This led to several years of training with her coach while she worked and obtained a qualification as a physical trainer; she then decided to go to university – but rather than accepting a place at Loughborough University or in the US, she chose the University of Malta.
This really opened the girls’ eyes to the wealth of possibilities open to them, if they look for them. Siân’s central message was that the ‘typical’ path does not necessarily have to be the one they follow. She mentioned being “three steps behind everyone else” when she first went to university, as her friends were already getting jobs and buying houses – but stressed that this was the right decision for her as she was following her dream, competing at national running events in the UK and Malta, and in 2011 was invited to the world trials.
However, Siân suffered an injury to her ankles, which has unfortunately has kept her out of national competition since then. Despite this, she never gave up and continued to train in the gym and pool even though she could not be on the track. She gave the girls a lot of excellent advice for injury recovery and emphasised the importance of not giving up.
As a result of Siân’s perseverance, she will be competing over the weekend at the UK National Indoor competition this weekend – a fantastic positive note on which to end the talk.
This was a great chance for the girls to be inspired by a recent leaver who has taken an interesting journey since leaving Bolton School, and has never given up on her dream or passion for her sport.
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