Olympics stars inspire girls at Cheltenham Ladies' College
HUNDREDS of young sportswomen gathered in Cheltenham to be inspired to aim for the winners' podium.
The Girls Go Gold conference at Cheltenham Ladies' College saw those aged from 15 to 18 hear from sports stars and leading coaches on how to improve their performance on the field or track, and also in school and life.
One of the key speakers was Jon Norfolk, head coach of the GB Paralympic cycling team.
He said: "I offered advice from our approach at British Cycling which can be used by 16 to 18-year-old athletes in all sorts of sports.
Gents, come in to Earl's & Co and enjoy a haircut and finish, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £18.50
Terms: Later and earlier appointments available upon request
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
"I put all the tools on the table and they could choose the ones they find useful."
Mr Norfolk said that one of the elements that students found useful was his discussion of the small measures taken by Team GB to help cyclists like Sir Chris Hoy, and Victoria Pendleton on the Velodrome track during the Olympics.
He said: "One of the things we did was invent heated trousers to keep muscles warm before or between races without having to exercise.
"It's this sort of attention to detail and preparation which will help girls in their sporting life and also in any walk of life. It also shows not to be afraid of ideas; there are no silly ideas."
Outside the main hall, visitors to the conference were invited to post their hopes for sport on an "aspiration board".
Some were modest, such as "For my under-12 netball team to win the district tournament", while others were more ambitious, like "To compete in the Xterra World Championships in Maui."
Two Ladies' College pupils who are already in the elite as internationals said sport was an important part of their lives.
Lucinda Maxwell, 16, who plays lacrosse for Scotland U19s, said: "I think it teaches us how to work together to improve and get better as a team. It teaches you to work hard and put everything you've got into what you're doing."
Her friend and international rival, Phoebe O'Hara, who plays for England U19 lacrosse team, said: "You can see if you put in the effort you get the reward. Academics is all about grades, but in sport you can physically see your results."
Both girls saw playing team sports as an excellent grounding in life.
Phoebe said: "My parents wanted me to play an individual sport as it would be something I could continue with on my own, but I used to beat myself up if I did badly.
"Now if I have a bad game my team-mates and coaches help me so much and pick me up. It even makes losing enjoyable." Lucinda agreed: "You lose together and win together."
The students also listened to talks by Olympic Team GB hockey star Chloe Rogers and four times Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington.
The college's assistant head of sport and PE, Kate Nimmo, said: "We have a good emphasis on sport in the school. We try to offer many sports, not just the team sports.
"We want the girls to go on to lead a healthy and active life, and engaging them in sport can help them in the future as they go on to careers in business."