You don’t have to be the fastest, strongest or most talented person in the world to become a Guinness World Record holder. I should know, I’m the current Guinness World Record holder for the “Fastest half marathon in a nurse’s uniform (male)” and I’m no superhuman. For me, what makes a Guinness World Record holder, isn’t about being the fastest or strongest person in the world, it’s about personal motivation; having a reason for taking up the challenge.
Never do things by halves. Strangely enough, this is a lesson I learnt from competing in the Potters ‘Arf of 2014. Over the years, I had completed seventeen full Potteries Marathons, several half-marathons and numerous other races, but in 2014, aged 53, I was asked by a younger friend in his mid-thirties to run with him in the ‘Arf. Truth be told, I expected Kev to beat me, but this was a chance to share his joy and excitement in competing in his first ‘Arf, and to run alongside him as far as I could. The dilemma for me was, how seriously should I take the race? I’ve always said that once I have finally lost my competitive edge, I’ll do these damned races dressed as Abraham Lincoln, or play a kazoo whilst running, or get up to some other pack of daft.
When my daughter Sophie was five years old, she told me that she wanted to do martial arts. I had done Tae Kwon Do when I was twelve - due to bullying experiences in school - and my mum had felt it would help my self-confidence. So I felt Tae Kwon Do would the best option for Sophie. I knew about Stoke UTA (Unified TaeKwon-do Association – the official Olympic version of the sport) from when I was working as a Family Service Worker: I had introduced a young boy I was supporting to Stoke UTA to help boost his self-esteem, and so I knew it was a good club.
My Potters Arf story starts back in April, although I didn’t know it at the time. I’d spent my two week Easter holiday in Kenya where I’m a frequent visitor to help out at Kings Children’s Home… more on that later.On 30th April I received the heart-breaking news that one of my former pupils, Matt Hollinshead, had sadly passed away. I’m a teacher in Stoke and had been Matt’s Head of Year for his five years of high school, from 2011 until 2016. Matt was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just after he left Endon High and he fought bravely throughout his illness. He is deeply and sadly missed.
This is the story of my son Joe. As a little boy we tried several sports clubs but it was clear that team sports wasn’t his thing. He found this hard at school. He was good at swimming, bursting with energy. I would watch him jumping up and down, dunking his head under the water. I must admit being slightly worried, because all the other children were standing still waiting for their turn.
Then someone told me maybe we should try climbing because they had watched him climb a tree and he had very good balance. He was about six. But we were in the middle of moving to another area and so we didn’t follow it up.
In his new school, Joe was bullied from the very first day. So we ended up eventually taking him out of school to home educate. We also found that he had dysographia, dyspraxia and mild dyslexia which made writing frustrating and worsened his self-esteem. His confidence was at an all-time low.
We, like most parents, but especially because we home educate, look for opportunities and try as much as possible to follow interests. For Joe sport has been a big part of this. It has been a big positive in Joe’s life. It’s where he is happiest and where he wants to be. But it has to be sport he can do by himself and satisfies his need to challenge himself.
He started going to a Parkour club and was soon mastering flips and climbing up anything and everything, jumping over benches. Then we went to Rudyard Lake Sailing Club open day. He loved it and we joined the club. Members who had been sailing for a long time couldn’t believe he had never sailed before. Six months later having never sailed before he won outstanding junior sailor trophy at the Christmas prize giving. The club is great at encouraging children and young people. He’s been crewing for another member, attending their youth training sessions and will be working towards becoming an assistant instructor.
A year ago we came to Tumbling Trampoliners. Joe found his third passion. We would come for one session and he would beg me to let him stay for the next and the next. He now attends every session he can which is thirteen hours altogether. He’s also become a volunteer coach. When he’s doing any of these things I can see he is loving every minute and at the end wanting to come back. He just looks so free.
Photo courtesy Tumbling Trampoliners/Yannick Vidal
My dad has always been, and still is, a big influence my running. I remember from a young age being so excited and inspired by him running the London marathon. I thought he was going to be on the television! And seeing all the running medals he had made me want to one day run the London marathon - which I did back in 2011.
Clayton has built up a reputation for the sport of Badminton in recent years with numerous district title and County titles, regional titles are now also flowing through the veins of the students and the school has been challenging itself for a while to hunt down a National Title. This isn’t an idle ambition: In the past four years, the school has reached the National finals on two occasions with previous finals placing of 8th and 5th. And we’re there again in the 2016/17 school year. Can we supersede the achievement of previous finals?
My running journey began in 1996, when aged thirty-four I decided to go for a short run. Little did I know that, like Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days, my journey would take me the equivalent of round the world in miles. Exactly where the final mile of the 24,901 miles I covered I can’t be sure, but it was somewhere in or near Stoke-on-Trent.
Authors and Performers Glenn Martin James and Angela Marie James work regularly in schools with children, staging workshops on every subject from Vikings to the Spitfire. In Summer 2016 they embarked on a Tour of North Staffs with their Creative Kids Workshops, and devoted some special sessions to Sports and the Olympics, to tie in to the fact that Stoke-on-Trent was 2016’s City of Sport.
When I was aged 10 my grandfather gave me as a Christmas present the Times Atlas of the world. I spent many hours studying every map on every page, especially the maps of the main mountain ranges. From as early as the age of five, I remember that I loved beautiful country and hills, and I decided that one day I would be a mountaineer.
In my atlas I noticed the small independent states of Chitral and Swat (now part of Pakistan), and in Chitral I counted the Hindu Kush peaks of Tirich Mir, Noshaq, Istoro Nal and Sad Istragh. For some reason I decided that, if it was still unclimbed, I would one day organise an expedition to Sad Istragh.
With a heightened sense of positivity, I decided that Monday 6th February would be the day that I restart my running journey, on the road to becoming marathon runner. Having spent all day at work on my feet, and the feeling in them gradually getting less, along came the excuses to cancel my run and just go home instead. I didn’t feel much better when I headed to my car through the pouring rain either. Arriving home, I got into the house as fast as I could, changed into my running gear before I had time to change my mind.
This is the third of a little trio of sporting stories to showcase the work we've had from Stoke-on-Trent schools. This lovely storyboard was done last year by a Year 2 pupil, Janneth, at Summerbank Primary School in Tunstall, and shows - over a eight week period - the course of the pupils's first gymnastics lessons, from complete novice to first gymnastics display.
I can see them out there. Carefree and nothing to worry about. Then the wind picks up and they lean out. Heads nearly touching the water. I watch as he carefully moves the rudder into the wind to perform his tack. So graceful, yet so strong. The wind seems to throw the boat around, however the sailor just leans out, putting all his trust in the foot straps, and takes back control. The passion. The understanding. The sailor and the boat become one. I love it.
“Right archers you’re with me wear a long sleeve top and meet at the staff room!” shouted the crazy Mr. Wilson. It was my group’s time for archery and I was so excited. I do archery at the weekend at a school. I knew it wouldn’t be the exact same because they are different clubs but I thought it wouldn’t be much different - boy I was in for a shock!
In the spring of 2015, I was lucky enough to be introduced to nine amazing people and had the chance to participate in what was probably going to be the opportunity of a lifetime. Filming “The Great Pottery Throw Down” didn’t come without its consequences though. With a huge cutback to my cycling and an increased diet, of which most was just chocolate and crisps, training was not going well. Also, I think the psychological effect of having to cycle to Africa was playing with my mind slightly.
Running has never come naturally to me, despite my will to try. My attempts started as a kid during Primary School, where I had a go at joining the after school cross country club. I turned up, nervous, in my little black pumps, shiny blue shorts and White t shirt. I felt ready. Cross country was slower than sprinting, so surely I'd be ok at this. How wrong could I be?! It seemed all the sporty people were also good at this and I immediately fell to the back of the group. I was embarrassed and made to feel upset and rubbish at all the other kids jibes at the 'fat kid having a go'. I never went back!
I have been a competitive swimmer from the age of eight. Nearing the end of my being a competitive swimmer, I started thinking of new things, new challenges that would give me a buzz and let me see the fun side of doing sport. At the age of 14 I decided that since I used to be a county runner and I am okay on the bike so why don’t I do it all and go into triathlons and see how I would find it.