Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Future sports stars from Bolton School have been inspired by a visit from Kelly Massey, an Olympic medal winner and Dave Readle, a two-sport international and Commonwealth Games athlete.
Year 11 boys, Year 5 girls and elite athletes from the Girls’ Division Senior School were told by Kelly that “no-one is going to hand it to you. You need to find opportunities and take them. If you put in the extra effort, it opens doors for you." Kelly won a bronze medal for GB in Rio in 2016 when she ran in the 400m relay team. She also has silver and bronze medals in the 4 x 400m from the last two Commonwealth gatherings, European gold and bronze medals and a silver from the indoor version. Reflecting on her Rio adventure, she said she went as one of a team of eight that was whittled down to six and then four to run in the 400m relay. She cited hard work and being a team player as the reasons why she made the final team. Kelly told the pupils that people often use excuses not to put themselves forward – be it shyness or embarrassment or not wanting to do what others aren’t doing or laziness or lack of motivation. A relative latecomer to athletics, she put her social life to one side and started competing internationally at 21 years of age and by 2008 was beginning to think about making it to an Olympic Games. After Commonwealth success, she was told to aim high by Dave Readle, sport and fitness psychologist, and so she strove to put everything into alignment to progress from being a Commonwealth athlete to an Olympian.
Dave Readle emphasised the importance of recognising opportunities and taking them. Referencing his upbringing in Liverpool, he told how sport helped keep him on the straight and narrow and how he got into training, boxing and basketball in his early years and then in 1992, aged 12, he saw Linford Christie in action and started to think, how do you get to an Olympic Games? Beefing up to 20 stones, he became a shot-putter and was on the brink of making the 2002 Commonwealths in Manchester when he ripped his pectoral muscle clean off his chest whilst bench pressing. Thinking his moment had passed he retired at 22 years of age and then trained to become a teacher and subsequently a sport and fitness psychologist and starting work as a performance psychologist for British Cycling in 2008 before ending up, six stones lighter, as a cyclist himself and winning a silver in the World Championships in the tandem 1000m time trial. By 2012 he was part of the Olympic and Paralympic support staff rather than a competitor and by 2013 he was working with Kelly.
Taking questions, Kelly said the quickest she had run the 100m was 11.9 seconds and her record for the 400m was 51.9 seconds; Dave said, in his prime, he had managed the 100m in 10.9 seconds. Kelly said she had been lucky in terms of injuries only suffering glandular fever, lyme disease and tonsillitis. Asked if she enjoyed being an athlete, she answered honestly saying “sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t”. The more pressure there is, the less enjoyable it is but she said the stress dissipates in the half hour before a race as soon as she is in the warm-up bubble. In terms of keeping sponsors on board, she said you need to be good, especially on Instagram!
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