London 2012 one year on: Olympians inspire Redbridge children with school visits
A new world of possibilities has been opened up to Redbridge children who have heard Olympians and Paralympians tell of their inspirational journeys to success.
Pupils at Seven Kings High School, Ley Street, Ilford, met Paralympic runner Tim Prendergast last week.
Tim, who is blind, won gold in the 800m at the 2004 Paralympics and also competed in 2000, 2008 and London 2012.
He competes for his home country of New Zealand, but has lived in London for the past five years with his wife and son.
He talked to students and staff about the mental strength and sheer willpower needed to overcome the devastating blindness that set in when he was a child and how he used it towards his success.
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Deputy headteacher Clive Rosewell said: “He was wonderful – absolutely inspirational.
“He got across the idea that if you really try and push yourself, you never know what you might achieve.
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“He told the students how losing his sight was initially so upsetting but he turned it into a positive and became a champion.”
One of the students who met Tim was Isaac Harvey, who carried the Olympic torch during last year’s relay.
Isaac, of Kingston Road, Ilford, was born with limb/pelvic hypoplasia syndrome, which mean he has no arms and a weak pelvis and does most things with his feet.
Yet this has not stopped him from taking part in extreme sports and events including wheelchair slalom, football, relays and races every year since he was 11.
Tim is one of many sporting champions to have inspired Redbridge children this year.
Stratford-born Christine Ohuruogu, who won 400m gold in 2008 and silver in London, delighted Redbridge Primary School pupils in October and gold-winning Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey met pupils from Ilford Preparatory School in December.
Paralympian Noel Thatcher joined staff and pupils from Forest School, in Snaresbrook, to break the world record for the longest distance run on a treadmill in a day last July.
Five-times gold medal winner Noel is a patron of the school.
Mr Rosewell said meeting Olympians and Paralympians has a “really positive effect” on young people.
He added: “Sports participation is already high but where you have had sporting figures from your own country achieving it is fantastic.
“It has carried on this year with the tennis and the Lions and we want to keep that momentum going.”
• Let us know what you think of the impact of the Olympics in Redbridge one year on. You can post a comment below, tweet us @IlfordRecorder, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.