Pupils’ top coach

Dame Kather­ine’s class

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Niki Ten­nant

Sev­enty se­nior pupils at a Ruther­glen school who are seek­ing to win a place at univer­sity or ex­cel at an up­com­ing job in­ter­view have re­ceived once-in-al­ife­time coach­ing from one of Bri­tain’s top golden achiev­ers.

Glas­gow-born Dame Kather­ine Grainger DBE, who is Bri­tain’s most dec­o­rated fe­male Olympian, was re­cently beamed by video link into a hall in Trin­ity High School for a spe­cial ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion.

The row­ing ath­lete of­fered in­valu­able ad­vice on how the pupils can reach their start­ing and fin­ish­ing lines in the next part of their lives’ jour­ney.

Kather­ine has five Olympic medals, in­clud­ing a mem­o­rable gold at Lon­don 2012 and four sil­ver medals at Syd­ney, Athens, Bei­jing and Rio.

She be­came the first British wo­man to win medals at five suc­ces­sive Olympic Games, and is also a six-time world cham­pion in her gru­elling sport.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity with a law de­gree, Kather­ine went on to achieve an MPhil in med­i­cal law and med­i­cal ethics from Glas­gow Univer­sity.

And in May 2013, she com­pleted a PhD in the sen­tenc­ing of homi­cide at King’s Col­lege, Univer­sity of Lon­don.

Twenty-seven busi­ness man­age­ment stu­dents, 27 Higher PE pupils, 10 mem­bers of Trin­ity High’s net­ball team, and six mem­bers of the school’s growth mind­set group packed the school hall to hear words of in­spi­ra­tion from the re­mark­able wo­man.

The pupils - who had been re­search­ing Kather­ine’s glit­ter­ing ca­reer - com­piled a list of 20 ques­tions which were re­layed to Kather­ine by the school’s vice com­mu­ni­ca­tions cham­pion, Patrick Casey, 17, of Burn­side.

They ranged from ask­ing the Olympian’s strat­egy for over­com­ing dis­ap­point­ment, to in­quir­ing about her train­ing sched­ule and the sac­ri­fices she made on her way to the top.

“I was not sure when I left school what I wanted to do with my life,” Kather­ine ex­plained.

“I knew I wanted to do some­thing that would have an im­pact and some­how make things bet­ter. My younger sis­ter got bul­lied and I got very frus­trated I could not do any­thing about it and how un­fair that was to her be­cause she was an amaz­ing per­son hav­ing a bad ex­pe­ri­ence. “I felt strongly about jus­tice. To me, law was some­thing that can make things bet­ter and give peo­ple a voice and make fair­ness a bit more achiev­able. “I al­ways felt ed­u­ca­tion was some­thing I could learn from as an ath­lete and I was a bet­ter ath­lete for it. “I was also a bet­ter stu­dent be­cause I was a rower. I was both phys­i­cally fit and men­tally fit.” Of all the ma­jor events in which she has com­peted, Kather­ine told Trin­ity High pupils that the high­light for her was un­doubt­edly com­pet­ing in front of a home crowd at Lon­don 2012.

She said the ex­pe­ri­ence was “in­cred­i­bly spe­cial” and will be re­mem­bered for the rest of her life.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion about how she stays fo­cused, Kather­ine ad­vised pupils to con­cen­trate on some­thing they deeply want to achieve.

“It needs to be some­thing that ex­cites, in­spires and mo­ti­vates you,” she said.

“If you are try­ing to achieve some­thing half-heart­edly, or if some­one else has told you to do it, or it is not your dream or drive or in­spi­ra­tion, it is easy to get dis­tracted.”

Asked why she re­turned to academia af­ter a highly suc­cess­ful ca­reer in sport, the star - who is cur­rently chair of UK Sport - ex­plained that she likes the chal­lenge that learn­ing presents.

“I knew I could not be an ath­lete for­ever,” she told pupils.

“Like most things, there is a time limit at­tached to what you can do.

“You find the next thing that you are pas­sion­ate about.

“Life is full of change and new di­rec­tion and a new op­por­tu­nity to re­de­fine your­self and what you stand for.”

De­scrib­ing her emo­tions be­fore em­bark­ing on a big race, Kather­ine told the pupils how she to learned to man­age her faster heart­beat, her fear and anx­i­ety, and the psy­cho­log­i­cal re­ac­tion of her body pre­par­ing for what lay ahead as the adren­a­line sharp­ened her senses.

When she be­came cold and ex­hausted sit­ting in a boat go­ing back­wards, she’d re­treat to the warmth of the li­brary.

And when she grew groggy in a stuffy en­vi­ron­ment sur­rounded by books, she’d bal­ance this by re­treat­ing to the wa­ter.

Al­though she ad­mits she did miss out on some events with fam­ily and friends due to train­ing com­mit­ments and other obli­ga­tions, Kather­ine re­vealed she doesn’t re­gard the few op­por­tu­ni­ties that she had to turn down as a re­sult of her 20 years as part of the British Olympic team as sac­ri­fices.

“That is the choice I made, and amaz­ing things have come from that,” she said.

Golden mo­ment Kather­ine and Team GB row­ing part­ner Anna Watkins cel­e­brate in their boat dur­ing the medal cer­e­mony at Lon­don 2012

Cheer A big hand for Dame Kather­ine from pupils at Trin­ity High

Am­bas­sador Dame Kather­ine is now chair of UK Sport

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