British Rowing legend visits Bournemouth Collegiate School

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Double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell visited Bournemouth Collegiate School on Thursday 20th September, to open a brand new Performance Sports Centre at the BCS Sports Academy.

The double Olympic champion took time out of his busy diary to visit the school and said, “I was delighted to be invited along to BCS today and have received such a warm welcome. I am a huge supporter of sport in schools and just wish that we had had a sports academy whilst I was at school. It could have spurred things on earlier in my career.” 

There was a busy schedule planned for James at the school. He was initially welcomed in a reception by the Principal, Stephen Duckitt, who said, “It is a huge honour to welcome James Cracknell to Bournemouth Collegiate School. He epitomizes everything that we stand for as we encourage our pupils to embrace challenges in life with open arms and always strive to be one’s best.”

One member of staff particularly pleased to see James was Head of Science at BCS, Stephen Pumphrey, who taught James whilst he was at school at St. Catherine’s school in Guildford. James Cracknell once described Mr Pumphrey as ‘the most inspirational teacher ever’ in an interview with The Telegraph.

James went on to captivate pupils in the school assembly when he talked about his path to becoming an Olympic Champion and shared many nuggets of wisdom and inspiration. He recalled his frustration at twice being selected for the Olympics in ’92 and ’96  but being unable to make the starting line in either Games because of a broken shoulder and being struck down with tonsillitis. He told the enthralled  pupils how he had never let himself stop believing in himself and  believing that he had the talent to win. “Everyone’s journey is different with different hurdles to overcome.” He urged the BCS pupils to always work as a team and shared his rowing coach’s advice – make sure that your worst is better than everyone else’s best!

James finished his talk by telling the whole school to “plot a pathway to make your journey. Do it in small steps to make sure it’s a steady path and have belief that it’s your medal to win!”

James then challenged pupils to a 100m rowing challenge which they readily accepted. James’s previous best over 100m was 13 seconds. Four rowing machines were set up and year 8 pupil Ben Cavill, year 12 pupil, Anna Majasevic  and teachers Robyn Chambers and Richard Harrison- Poole  raced in earnest over 100m. The competitors were closely watched and cheered on by James Cracknell. It was a closely fought contest with the winner emerging as Richard Harrison-Poole, Head of PE, in 16.8 seconds, closely followed by Robyn Chambers, Anna Mojasevic in third place and Ben Cavill in 4th in a very commendable 20 seconds. James praised in particular Ben’s performance which he said was ‘pretty exceptional for a 12 year old.’

James Cracknell was then invited to unveil an official plaque to commemorate his visit to the school and formerly cut the ribbon to officially open the new Performance Sports Centre. He took the time to chat freely with Rowing Academy Pupils who had gathered to meet their rowing hero.

Bernie Shrosbree, Director of Performance at Bournemouth Collegiate School said that “the School has recently launched a Rowing Academy for its pupils so it is very fitting that James Cracknell was able to come along today and we feel incredibly privileged to have him here. He has certainly been an inspiration to our school community today and it was wonderful to be able to show him our amazing new Performance Sports Centre with its state of the art training facilities… an education centre for human performance.”

Also visiting the Bournemouth Collegiate School to mark the opening was Nicola Greene, Deputy Leader of Bournemouth Council. Nicola said, “James was inspirational today, and I am delighted to have been part of the school’s celebrations. I am always pleased to see young people encouraged to participate in sport and be involved.”

The new Performance Sports Centre was designed by David Franklyn Architects, project managed by Synergy Construction & Property Consultants and build by Dorset based Modulek.

If you would like to publish your rowing news on the British Rowing website, email news@britishrowing.org.

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