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Top athlete to celebrate success of learners

Commonwealth athlete and TV star Will Sharman is to help students celebrate their achievements.

The former BBC Gladiator time-keeper will be handing out prizes at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan’s prize-evening at Rhyl’s Pavilion Theatre.

He will hand out a host of merit awards plus the school’s three main awards – the Head Teacher’s Award, the Val Cleaton Award and the Rotary Award.

Presently Britain’s top 110m hurdler, the 32-year-old will spend a day coaching young athletes, encouraging them to eat healthily and sharing his own successes – and sporting lows –  at the school in Abergele.

Will, who picked up a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, missed out on a place in Team GB at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, thanks to a last-minute injury.

The hurdler, who is also a trained classical pianist and has a Master’s degree in banking under his belt,  is now training to compete at next year’s World Championships in London.

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins said he is delighted Will Sharman is coming into school to work with students, before being guest of honour and presenting awards to learners at the school’s presentation evening.

He said: “Will is a top athlete who will inspire and encourage students, as well as give them an insight into his life as an elite athlete and the dedication it takes to reach the very pinnacle in a sport.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming him to the school and seeing him work with our young learners. I know they are really looking forward to meeting Will, taking part in the circuits he’ll set up and hearing what he has to say.”

He added: “The school awards are presented to learners who go that extra mile to ensure the school and their local communities continue to improve.

“The Val Cleaton Award is presented in memory of Val, a very special teacher at the school who passed away, while still in service at the school in 2004. She was vivacious, committed and enthusiastic.

“The Rotary Award is presented to the student who has worked hard in the community, whilst my award is presented to a student I believe has worked hard and shown enthusiasm and dedication. It isn’t necessarily just about academic success.”

Will said he is looking forward to working with Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan pupils through the Sports for Champions’ scheme.

He said: “I always enjoy going into schools. It’s always nice to give something back to the community. I know it’s not my immediate community as I live in Derbyshire but it’s still the wider community.

“As an athlete, it’s always very precious having the opportunity to work with children and inspiring them when it comes to sport. Kids have that innocence about them and are still challenging each other, whether it’s racing to the end of a corridor or across a field.

“By the age of perhaps 20, that innocence has been lost and perhaps the fun has gone out of activity. But it’s all about inspiring children to have fun and enjoying what you do, as well as how to improve.”

He added: “I want to encourage children to get active and to live a healthy lifestyle. As well as leading them through some exercises and challenges, I’ll be giving them some key nutritional information too.

“There are always some activities and things we will talk about that provides for some cross curriculum opportunities.”

Will, who has a son aged seven and a three-year-old daughter, says he was bitterly disappointed to miss out on going to Rio as part of the GB team.

He said: “It was soul destroying but that’s part of sport I’m afraid. I was injured during the semi-final race at the Olympic trials, which I won. I then had to withdraw from the final and that meant I was out of the GB team.

“I missed out on selection for the London 2012 Olympic games so was devastated to miss out on Rio. I’m concentrating now on next year’s World Championships which are in London.

“That’s going to be huge for British athletes, bigger than Rio because it’s at home and the public are going to be really engaged with the whole event.”

Will is also a classically trained pianist as well as being able to play the cornet and he was a member of the BBC Youth Orchestra of the Year as well as appearing as a time keeper on the TV show Gladiators.

He said: “Last year I performed a concert, on the piano, with Lucy Parnham, who is one of Britain’s best pianists and she has invited me to do the same again this year, so that’s a project I’m working on. It’s rather more complicated than playing Disney tunes for my two children!

“But it is athletics that comes first and I’m not really thinking about anything else other than being healthy and absolutely at my peak for London 2017 and the World Championships.”

He added: “I suppose I train for four to five hours every day but of that only about an hour is at full intensity.

“I will probably do stretching and other exercises in the evening. Nutrition is a huge issue – I need to eat the right things at the right time. It’s really is all about peaking, ideally on the day of the final.”

And Will has strong words for the drug cheats that have blighted many sports in recent years.

He said: “They don’t just cheat people out of victories, medals or a race placing – they cheat people out of funding. Elite athletes need funding to be able to compete and not getting it could mean the difference between competing or not.

“As an elite athlete I can be tested at any time and I have to guarantee where I will be for one hour every day, whether that’s at home, the gym or track or anywhere else. If I’m not there and they call, it counts as a missed test.”

He added: “I’m looking forward to working with pupils at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan and giving them an insight into life as an elite athlete, as well as the importance of exercise, nutrition and being clean. But most of all making sure that sport is fun!”

To find out more about Sports for Champions visit www.sportsforchampions.com