Bolton School Junior Girls

Words of Wisdom from Old Girl Athlete

Old Girl Siân Pledger talked to Bolton School Junior Girls pupils in assembly about making decisions. As well as being really interesting, the talk also linked in with the Junior Girls’ Habits of Mind, particularly thinking flexibly, being resilient, and dealing with change.

Since leaving Bolton School, Siân has followed her own path: after completing her A Levels, she took a gap year to pursue her athletics career and moved to Malta to train. She also gained a physical trainer qualification at the same time. However, her sporting career has not been without its problems. She has suffered from a torn hamstring and ankle injuries, both of which forced her to spend a long time in recovery before returning to training and competition. These setbacks and her determination to get back on the running track were a great example of resilience for the girls.

On the academic side, Siân made the decision to stay in in Malta after her gap year. She turned down places at the University of Loughborough and in the USA in order to instead study Geography and Psychology at the University of Malta. She continued to run throughout her time at university, balancing a rigorous training schedule with her academic studies. Her hard work paid off and she left the University of Malta not only with a first class degree, but also gained an academic excellence award.

After her degree, Siân found out about an International Seafloor Exploration Course, which she thought sounded really interesting, even though it wasn’t related to her degree! She was worried at first that she didn’t have the right qualifications, but when she asked she was told that she could apply. She did so, and was given funding to complete the two week course. This led to one of the key points in her talk: “If you don’t ask questions, a lot of opportunities will go by. The worst people can say is that you can’t do it yet!”

Siân went on to explain that it’s okay to take breaks to think and consider options: after completing the course, she took another gap year to do this. However, she stressed the importance of doing something valuable at the same time, which she achieved by setting up her own personal training and athletics coaching business.

She is now about to start a Masters degree in Physics at the University of Malta, and plans to balance her sporting aspirations with academic achievement. She told the girls that she’s not sure what lies ahead, but she has plans to continue to follow both her passion for running and her university studies. She hopes to run on an international level for either Great Britain or Malta, and ideally would like to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Siân’s flexibility of thinking, her willingness to take the initiative and her determination to keep going despite setbacks have really helped her to forge her own route through life, allowing her to pursue areas of personal interest.

Her final words of advice to the Junior Girls were, “Never be afraid to ask or make your own path.”

Sian with some of the Junior Girls' School young athletes

Siân with some of the Junior Girls' School young athletes

The girls really enjoyed hearing from someone who has combined athletic and academic excellence

The girls really enjoyed hearing from someone who has combined athletic and academic excellence

A collage of images from Sian's experience on the seafloor research boat

A collage of images from Siân's experience on the seafloor research boat