On Saturday 5 September, Sidcot School played host to some very special guests as part of a pre-season orientation camp. Eighty five keen young students came back to school early to take part in the event which featured physically and mentally challenging activities designed to reinforce the importance of collaborative working. The activity kicked off a new era of sport at Sidcot with a greater focus on the important life skills that are acquired through an ambitious and innovative sporting timetable.
Inspiration came in bucket loads from Heather Fell – Silver Olympic medallist in Modern Pentathlon and Craig Figes – a water polo Olympian. We were also joined by a home grown sporting star, Katie Synge, 23 years old, who used to attend Sidcot School. Katie was a GB Junior Triathlete and raced in 2014 as a full time ITU elite triathlete having started her running career racing round the Cheddar reservoir as part of cross country training while at Sidcot.
West Country girl Heather grew up in Tavistock, Devon and enjoyed success from an early age, winning two gold medals and a silver medal at the 2003 World Junior Championships in Athens. She then experienced a series of injuries and setbacks but her perseverance was rewarded in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics when she won the silver medal in the women’s individual event, validating her decision to stick with the sport! Heather is a role model for current and emerging athletes and enjoys talking publicly about her triumphs over adversity.
It’s no surprise that Craig Figes ended up in the career he did – his family has a strong aquatics heritage. His grandmother was a founder member of the Bristol Central swimming club, his mother swam at the 1966 Commonwealth Games and his sister appeared in Great Britain’s synchronised swimming teams in the mid-1990s. Craig was captain of the Men’s Great Britain Water polo team at the 2012 London Olympics. He says: "I had so much help and support when I was younger and I am proud to be able to try and help the next generation."
The students enjoyed a full programme of activities to prepare them for a busy term of sport. Newly appointed Director of Sports Development, Graham Jones, commented: "Saturday’s event was a tremendous success and gave us an opportunity to demonstrate how we are redefining sport and physical activity at Sidcot. The whole day provided our students with the chance to experience success on a personal level, as well as experiencing success within a team context. The participants were wholly committed, showing great courage and resilience in the way they undertook the challenges they faced. I witnessed how students grew throughout the day as they realised they could exceed their personal expectations."