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Overcome hurdles Jarrett tells Coopers pupils

PUBLISHED: 15:30 04 December 2015

Tony Jarrett with the sports captains at Coopers Coborn School

Tony Jarrett with the sports captains at Coopers Coborn School

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GB Olympian speaks at school sports awards

Tony Jarrett gave an inspirational talk at Coopers Coborn SchoolTony Jarrett gave an inspirational talk at Coopers Coborn School

Former Great Britain hurdler Tony Jarrett appeared in Olympic Games and won medals at World, European and Commonwealth level during a glittering career.

But he admitted he felt inspired by pupils at Coopers Coborn while speaking as a guest at their annual sports awards evening.

Jarrett missed out on 110m hurdles Olympic bronze by 1,000th of a second in 1992 and finished fourth in the 4x100m relay and coaches Coopers pupil Mayowa Osunsami these days.

He said: “It’s an honour to be here. Mayowa talks so highly of the school and there is so much talent here! Wow!

“Years ago I was sitting in a hall like this and if someone said to me then I’d go to four Olympics, five World Championships, five European Championships and four Commonwealth Games, I would’ve said ‘nah!’ But if you work hard and you’re hungry to be good, it’s possible.

“There are dream-killers out there, who will want you to go partying, so you need positive people around you. You are the authors, directors and producers of your own life story.”

Jarrett’s speech to pupils and their families capped a memorable evening, where the sports captains presented a celebration of the school’s sporting achievements, across a broad range of events, from the 2014/15 academic year.

And the 47-year-old looked back fondly on his own time at school, adding: “I had some great PE staff and you have to work hard, believe in yourselves and pursue your dreams.

“When it got cold, I didn’t want to go to the track, but you have to find someone who believes in your skills. I had a year of getting lifts to the track and back home again, but then it was over to me.

“I trained, but I didn’t think about what I could do. My coach told me to believe in my skills and get from A to B as fast as possible!

“When I went to the English Schools’, then I started to believe in my skills. My whole life changed and I began to set goals.

“My goal was 12.98 and I ran 13.00, so I got close. But that would win championships still today!”

Jarrett did manage to win gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, but it proved his only title during a golden age of British sprint hurdling. He added: “I got 12 medals at major championships, mostly silvers and bronze!

“I had a hit list of athletes I wanted to beat. I’d be like an assassin, scratching names out, but I couldn’t get rid of one Welshman! Colin Jackson was the Usain Bolt of hurdling and a real pain in my side!”

Nonetheless, Jarrett can look back on an excellent career on the track and it’s great to see a former athlete now helping the next generation of hopefuls.

Osunsami, 16, set his personal best for the 100m hurdles of 13.11 secs this summer, when winning an Essex Schools’ Championship silver medal, and Jarrett paid tribute to his young charge, while offering a final thought to other youngsters.

He said: “I put Mayowa through pain, but he has a good mentality and when he said he wanted to be like Dayron Robles, I thought ‘I like that’.

“You have to find your talent and tap into it, make sacrifices. Be dedicated. I can get you in shape, but when the gun goes bang you have to do it yourself. ”

Coopers Coborn School sports award winners 2014/15 – cross-country: Tom Keevil, Sophie Rand; athletics: Max Prior, Elysha Thatcher-Gray, junior girls team; swimming: Lewis Binning, Harry Fox, Will Manning, Ben Carter; gymnastics: Harley Whittlestone, Lauren Mitchell/Annabelle Hostler; dance: Esme Roberts; tennis: Sam King, Nick Wade; badminton: Thushar Jitesh, Abbie Wallis; hockey: Riva Siggins, Harry Mellows, Phoebe Menear; netball: Isobel McDonach, Georgia Macalle, Sophie Smith; cricket: Joe Wright, Mitchell Gilbert, Harjas Sagoo; rugby: Jacob Fortune, Alfie Studd, Jacob Smith, George Daly, Joe Harrison; football: Fred Houseago.

Supporting sport: Luke Scrivener/Zak Orpin (hockey); Hannah Binnings (swimming/athletics); Emily Stratton (netball); Mike Bottone (football); Amelia Acreman (badminton). Spirit of sport: George Dalton, Hannan Ramanathan, Ted Buchanan, Briana Cummins. Potential for success: Mayowa Osunsami. Junior sports personality: Isabella Purdie. Outstanding achievement: Isobel Ives. Sports personality: Natasha Patient.

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