GSA Girls Go Gold conference

Olivia writes: In mid-September, myself, Jess and Lilly (all U6 and this year’s sports captains) had the privilege of attending the annual GSA Girls Go Gold conference held at St Catherine’s, Bramley. 

We listened to Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson recount experiences and challenges she faced as a Paralympic athlete.  The underlying message of her speech was to never be afraid to put yourself on the line. She had missed just four training sessions during her entire career, despite time spent on the track in important finals (Olympic, World Championships and Commonwealth) equating to just 20 minutes. These anecdotes demonstrated to us all the dedication, hard work and perseverance required to achieve such feats. She also spoke of the importance of education in providing a retired athlete with an outlet once they have finished their competitive career. Considering she is a member of the House of Lords and given the importance of the day, politically, it was very special that she had taken the time to speak to us.

We also attended a variety of ‘breakout sessions’ run by teams from Surrey Sports Park and Surrey University. These included a speed and agility workshop, sports nutrition information and a talk entitled From County to Country by England netballer Tamsin Greenway. Tamsin was truly inspirational; speaking with such honesty and pride about balancing her role as both coach and player for the super league team Surrey Storm. We also enjoyed a seminar on sport at university, which, as it is our final year at school, was extremely pertinent. Additionally, Mark Pain, twice winner of Sports Photographer of the Year, had created a presentation of shots of London 2012 which were incredibly powerful and gave us all goose bumps! 

The day ended with a talk by Olympic gold medallist Anna Watkins who spoke about her journey as Olympic Champion and Imperfect Rower. In this she outlined her discovery of a love for rowing at Cambridge University and spoke of the strong team bond that had been built between her and Katherine Grainger with whom she won gold in London 2012. Their successful partnership incorporated her love for statistics and science and Katherine’s emotion and passion for competition! She compared the success of her own pairing with the other pairs in the women’s rowing team which showed the audience how each rowing pair was different but all were successful in their own right. Throughout her talk, she allowed her gold medal to be passed around. To see it in such proximity made her achievement even more of a reality and achievable.

Attended by over 360 athletes from 20 different schools from the GSA, it was such an inspirational and special day.

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