14 October 2019
Olympic athlete Jenny Meadows visited Bolton School to deliver an inspiring message to pupils in the Junior and Senior Schools. She talked to boys and girls about unlocking their potential and offered lots of tips and advice based on her experiences at World and Olympic level.
Jenny first addressed interested Girls’ and Boys’ Division Senior School pupils during their lunchtime, followed by a talk to the Junior Boys’ School. Later in the afternoon, boys in Year 3 enjoyed sessions with her and her husband and coach Trevor Painter, who is also British Athletics Pathway Coaching Lead and GB U20 Team Leader. After school, Junior Boys and Girls in the cross country squads enjoyed an additional coaching session.
In her talks, Jenny began with an overview of her career, from her origins as an ambitious seven-year-old telling coaches at her very first training session that she wanted to go to the Olympics, through the tough teenage years when she felt “like a small fish in a very big pond”, to competing and winning medals in the 800m at international competitions. She shared a video of her first ever medal win in 2009 World Championships: a Bronze which “felt like a Gold” because it was the first time she had successfully transitioned her training into competition. She felt she had achieved her potential at that point, as well as overall in her career.
Jenny went on to describe some of the difficulties and disappointments she has faced in her career. In particular, she talked about being unable to compete in the London 2012 Olympics due to injury and the importance of focusing on what she could do, rather than what she couldn’t do, at this time. She discussed her training regime during the time when she was unable to run, which even included running on an ‘anti-gravity’ treadmill! As a result of her efforts, she came back stronger from this experience both mentally and physically and beat lots of her personal bests when she finally returned to running.
This led her to talk about the importance of failure and its benefits in developing the mental fortitude needed to carry on when the going gets tough. She said that “life is not always fun” but if you persevere through difficulty you will end up doing better and competing for longer than someone who has only ever succeeded.
Finally, she offered pupils advice on the mental characteristics needed to compete at high-level sport and gave lots of tips for developing excellence.
Junior and Senior School pupils alike were really inspired by Jenny’s visit and no doubt came away from their session with her with plenty to consider for their own sporting careers going forward.