Pupils learn life cy­cle of golden old boy

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - by Sarah Mar­shall smar­shall@thek­m­group.co.uk

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.

Pic­tures by Gary Browne pd1496711

Above, and right, Olympian Jamie Staff opens the re­fur­bished pool at Spring Grove School, Wye

Top: pd1496709, above: pd1496719

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