Trinity Welcomes Back Christine Ohuruogu

This week 400m world-champion Christine Ohuruogu returned to Trinity to talk to students about her time here and her journey to becoming an Olympic gold medalist. "I am fortunate enough to be blessed with an incredible gift," she began, "but a gift alone is not enough. Itís hard work that sets you apart from everyone else." Christine specialises in the 400m and won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics followed by silver on her own turf in the 2012 London Olympics - the main stadium is located just one mile from Christineís home. Just last month she became the first ever British woman to hold two world championships in the Moscow 2013 World Championship games. Born in Newham, East London, it is not hard to see why news stations are eager to report on her latest success; our city is incredibly proud to be birthplace to such an incredible athlete. And as a school, we were extremely honored to have welcomed back one of Britainís leading Olympic athletes.

As surprising as it may be, running was not always Christineís passion. She told students that her first love was netball Ė Christine played for our own Trinity netball team between 2000 and 2002 - and she developed an ambition to play for the England netball team in Year 7. Christine set herself high goals at an early age and although she says it was hard to juggle school work and training she was overjoyed to be given the chance to trail for the England netball team. She was turned away at the first and second trails until finally she was given a place on the team at the age of 17. Laughing, she told students that in her first ever game for England she only played for 10 minutes! Sitting on the side lines gave Christine a hunger that still drives her today. She spoke about how she felt that hard work was "in her DNA" and it consumed "every fibre of her body". When she began running at the age of 18 she was also on her way to University College London to study psychology and admits that the choice to let go of netball wasn't easy, but she realised her talent in running and after reaching her goal of playing for England she wanted a new challenge.

It was nice to hear that Christine, who has gone on to achieve so much, was part of a team that is still strong within our school community today. With two of my closest friends on the netball team I am fully aware of the commitment and work that goes into any team sport. When asked by one of the students if she though team and competitive sports were an important part of curriculum, Christine was confident in her answer: "I think it is important that sport is a compulsory part of education. Sport gives us the things we cannot teach." Listening to Christine speak passionately about her years playing netball, it is hard to avoid the value of team sports. Being part of Team GB has brought Christine to the forefront of British athletics and she continues to be a part of the local community, recently opening a first-of-its-kind athletics facility at a Hackney school.

Talking about her latest success in Moscow, Christine said she was elated with the record that she set and when she contends in competitions such as the World Championships and Olympics she must be incredibly focused in order to beat her peers. Incredibly, when competing in the London 2012 Olympics last year she tried to deter thoughts that she would be racing in her own city. "I saw London as the same 400m track rather than a 400m with any more significant meaning." She told a year 8 student who asked her about the pressure of performing in her home town. "As nervous as I did feel, I acknowledge that the anxiousness I experience is my body preparing for the race. I welcome the anticipation and if I didnít feel it I would worry."

As an A-Level student, currently faced with a wide range of life choices, I was inspired by Christine telling the group that as difficult as it was to make sacrifices, work hard and recover from low points such as injuries, she is sure of the fact that we all have a bright future that is unique to us. I am extremely glad that I was at Christineís talk as it was nice to see the results of hard work in a very down-to-earth woman. A topic that Christine frequently re-visited was the importance of "taking opportunities now, no matter how small." She seemed genuinely passionate about the influence she has on Londonís young people, telling us humbly that regardless of her amazing gift it is mainly hard work that got her where she is today.

The overwhelming chances are that most of us will not go on to be Olympic gold medalists but that doesnít make Christineís words any less relevant. Most of us have seen the posters around school printed with motivational quotes from writers, philosophers and athletes past. I think there should be a new quote on the posters from a current athlete who we are very proud to call our own: "Success is not down to thinking about what you canít do but what you can do and doing it well."


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