Pupils learn life cycle of golden old boy
KENT’S only gold Olympic medallist from the Beijing games was in his home town yesterday (Wednesday) where he told school pupils to follow their dreams. After a huge welcome at Spring Grove School, Wye, cyclist Jamie Staff went to the North School where, as a pupil, his devotion to cycling gathered pace. By mid-morning he was at his former primary school in Smeeth where he once terrified the head teacher by performing stunts jumping over classmates on a BMX. Staff, who took gold along with Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy in the team sprint event, lives in Manchester in order to train but grew up in Brabourne Lees and still regards Ashford as home. North School pupils sat mesmerised by a DVD of his winning race and then probed Staff with questions; discovering he can get up to speeds of 72km an hour on his bike and learning that he only got to wear the distinctive cycling suit and helmet a few days before the race so the secrets of the winning technology would not leak out to other teams. Asked if he will be taking part in the Olympics in 2012 Staff said: “I plan on being in London but part of it is out of my hands.” Competing on home turf will depend on Staff, now 35, keeping up with the younger British cyclists who will be eager for a place and may have an advantage as he will be 39 in 2012. Staff delivered a message to the youngsters sitting where he was 20 years ago: “If you’ve got drive and you work hard you can achieve anything in life. “You don’t have to go down traditional career paths.” Speaking after the inspirational assembly, Jade Grimshaw, pupil and sports ambassador at the North School, said: “His achievement gives us all inspiration. “He didn’t go to a grammar school which shows you can actually achieve something.”
Staff was due to attend a special event at Ashford International Hotel yesterday evening.
Staff and the other cyclists will lead the Team GB Heroes’ Parade in London today.
Above, and right, Olympian Jamie Staff opens the refurbished pool at Spring Grove School, Wye