Double Olympian returns to champion student efforts

Last year Gateshead College became the only school or college to form a unique partnership with Kelly Holmes Education to give students some incredible opportunities to be coached and mentored by some of the world’s top sport stars.

Among the professionals that have visited Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport during the last academic year to hold masterclasses with students alongside Dame Kelly are Olympic boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams, Olympic bronze medallist hockey player Alex Danson and former world, European and commonwealth swimming champion, Nick Gillingham.

All sport students at the college participated in the programme, which covered the five core module areas of physical, physiological, emotional, psychological and social.

Dame Kelly Holmes said: “It was a brilliant end to the first year of our programme with Gateshead College. Many of the students have grown as individuals, as well as athletes, the ‘performance’ students, which includes those with the elite talent, have especially become much more professional about their sport.

“The team have delivered some great workshops and hopefully the increased knowledge and advice from our mentors will help the students to take their sport all the way to the top.

“Above all, I hope they have learned there is no shortcut to success, it is all about hard work, sacrifice and building a great team around you.”

The Kelly Holmes Education programme has run alongside Gateshead College’s existing programmes which give budding young sports students the opportunity to study towards nationally recognised qualifications while receiving expert coaching in their chosen sport.

Stephanie Moore, 18, is one of the students on the programme and is studying towards a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Sport. She is also a member of the college’s Athletics Academy, one of 12 sport academies established by Gateshead College to provide students with up to nine hours of sport-specific professional coaching each week while also providing strength and conditioning, nutrition advice and physiotherapy.

Stephanie, from Blaydon, Gateshead has already represented GB on two occasions and is currently world champion for the 4x400 INAS World Indoor Championships 2012. In June (9-16) she will travel to Prague for the 2013 INAS World Athletics Championships following another GB selection.

She said: “The experience with Kelly Holmes Education has been brilliant, especially meeting so many inspiring athletes and mentors.

“Before I started the programme I certainly wasn’t as confident as I am now, it’s really changed me as a person and it’s given me a real boost.”

On the final day of the programme the students took part in a sporting showcase which involved them sharing the skills and learning from the series of sporting masterclasses led by GB sports stars. Dame Kelly also led a practical session on aqua running at Sport Central, Northumbria University, to introduce the students to the huge benefits of training hard in the water during periods of injury setbacks and rehabilitation.

Lewis Pendleton, sport academy manager at Gateshead College, said: “We’re committed to providing our students with opportunities that go far and beyond what they might expect from a normal college experience.

“We’ve got some of the best coaches in the UK here at Gateshead College working alongside professional strength and conditioning coaches and many professional sports people use our facilities to train.

“The Kelly Holmes Education Programme has certainly added to what we’re already offering our students in terms of providing an insight into the life of some of the world’s top athletes and the chance for students to learn from them what it takes to make it and cope with the big-time.”     

The day culminated in a celebration of the programme with input from students and a presentation from Dame Kelly to inspire the students to continue their progression and keep working hard to achieve their goals.