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Sportswomen from St Mary’s, Cambridge inspire professional athletes

On Thursday 29 April St Mary’s School, Cambridge hosted its annual Sports Award Dinner welcoming 190 students, staff and parents to celebrate the remarkable sporting achievements of individuals and teams across the school. Three special guests addressed the audience: Clare Cunningham, International Paratriathlete; Serita Solomon, British track and field athlete competing in hurdles; and Amy Smith, British freestyle swimmer who competed with Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics.

Amy Smith spoke on behalf of the three guests exclaiming: “Instead of introducing ourselves as inspirational role models, it is we who have been inspired – by the girls at this school. It’s amazing how many different sports the girls have taken part in this year, and how many teams the school runs!”

Ms Charlotte Avery, Headmistress, St Mary’s School, Cambridge, highlighted the value of the school’s ‘sport for all’ commitment: “We deliver a full and varied programme of sport through our excellent Physical Education (PE) and Games provision. This ensures that there are sporting opportunities to suit each and every girl’s passions and talents and in this way we lay a foundation which will transform the girls’ lives, by instilling positive physical habits that we hope will stay with them into adulthood. We are extremely proud of all students who participates in PE and Games, whether in school or in their free time, in competitions or purely for pleasure, and whether individually or as part of a team.”

The evening featured a Q&A session, at which the school’s sports scholars were invited to ask the panel of professional athletes about their lives and careers. Miss Kimberley Cooil, 2nd in Charge, PE and Games at St Mary’s School, Cambridge, commented that Serita Solomon’s answer of ‘almost every day’ to the question whether she ever felt like quitting was “so honest”. Having been plagued with injuries, Serita has had to battle through setbacks in training schedules and competition schedules, and spoke truthfully to the girls about how hard being a professional athlete can be – when you are not able to train and you feel your dreams slipping away.

Miss Cooil added: “One of the major factors affecting young adults’ mental wellbeing is body image, often related to low self-esteem. Girls’ confidence can plummet during adolescence, in line with their dropping levels of physical activity: the link between physical activity and the way girls view themselves is clear, physical activity plays a significant role in supporting positive mental wellbeing. We are so fortunate to be able to offer the girls a broad, balanced curriculum, of 28 sports, in order that they be able to work out which are the ones in which they thrive – and it is rewarding to see this recognised by our elite athlete guests at the Sports Award Dinner.”
The award for All Round Sports Woman was presented to Sixth Form student, Ludo C., who was also presented with the Ingrid Hoffman Trophy on the night. Ludo has represented the school in the gymnastics display, hockey and netball matches, and rowing competitions; completed her Grade 8 and Intermediate Dance examinations; and as Games Captain has gone above and beyond what is expected of the role, including helping out every week with Junior School swimming lessons. Ms Avery concluded that: “Ludo is a shining example of what can be achieved when girls’ physical education is taken seriously and valued properly.”

The awards presented on the night were:

  • Most Improved Players
  • Most Valuable Players
  • Most Dedicated Hockey Goal Keepers
  • Top Hockey Goal Scorers
  • Star Shooter
  • Most Supportive Team Player
  • All Round Valuable Team Player
  • Sport Scholars
  • Games Captain
  • Sports Team Captain of the Year
  • Exceptional Performance Record Breakers
  • All Round Sports Woman
  • Year 11 Sports Woman of the Year
  • Sports Team of the Year
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