Hampton welcomed Team GB’s most decorated Winter Olympian, Lizzy Yarnold, to our annual Senior Prizegiving celebration and Alex Fagan managed to catch up with her after the event:

Senior Prizegiving is always a fantastic occasion to celebrate the achievements of the School community, and to reflect on the year past. The School also welcomed guest speaker Lizzy Yarnold, a double Olympic champion who offered some wise words on resilience and the importance of following through with your goals.

Lizzy treated everyone in the main hall to a thrilling account of her journey to winning two Olympic Gold medals in the winter Olympic sport of the skeleton. The audience was propelled down the icy track at 80mph alongside Lizzy, and everyone got to hear first hand what it was like to stand on the Olympic podium having won a Gold medal.

Having grown up loving sport, and in particular the heptathlon, Lizzy always had ambitions to go to the Olympics. Inspired by athletes such as Denise Lewis, she was offered the chance to try out the skeleton, a sport she had never heard of at the time. Clearly Lizzy was a natural, and after only a few years she won Gold in Sochi in 2014. Overwhelmed, she managed to forget the national anthem whilst standing on the podium, but thankfully recovered her composure just in time.

Four years later in PyeongChang, Lizzy managed to defend her title against all odds to become the first ever British winter Olympic athlete to retain a Gold medal. Lizzy said herself that she didn’t believe she could accomplish that feat, but through perseverance and determination, she reached her goal, saying it meant even more to her due to the obstacles she had overcome.

Lizzy’s own personal story can teach Hamptonians a lot about the value of hard work, resilience in the face of challenges, and that no dream is ever too ambitious. Lizzy’s final words to me were:

Don’t limit yourself…you never know what’s going to happen.

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