The Inspiration Station – Di

When Phoebe asked me to write about who inspires me it got me thinking. I am not really a person that looks up to famous people. Generally it’s my friends and family that inspire me on a day to day basis. So thinking of one person was tricky, but I think telling you a little about Helen Thornhill might inspire you and demonstrate how you can inspire others.

I first met Helen when she was 9 years old at the local swimming club where I was coaching; her mum delivered her on the poolside saying she is a good swimmer but does not want to be involved in racing and competitions.

Helen was pretty shy but always got on with training and worked hard. She was clearly a very talented swimmer. Cutting a long story short, over the next 5 years we worked together, with a firm but encouraging coaching style she began racing, reaching high levels of competition. She was selected for talent development teams and even began to enjoy racing. From there she started helping with coaching and leading the younger swimmers. She has proved to be an amazing teacher and passes her experience on to others. Helen Thornhill is now still my swimmer as I still coach her on a regular basis, but she has now proved to be one of my best training partners and a close friend. She has an inner drive for hard work. From a swimmer that clearly said she would never race she is now equally if not better than me and now she pushes me in training. I’m very proud of her achievements and efforts. Helen never gets enough recognition for her hard work over the years because she just keeps her head down and trains. As she reached 15 years old she also took up fell running and as per usual with Helen’s endurance, she was excellent and she now runs at National levels and has also represented England. Swimming and running with someone you must have inspired at some point with the roles now definitely reversed is a wonderful feeling. Helen told me recently how she hopes to run some ultra-running events in Scotland and on the Pennine way when she is 18 (August this year). This shy non-competitive child has grown into one incredible endurance athlete that impacts my training and racing greatly.

This was a very brief account of what I feel is important to express to parents and coaches supporting young children. Let them decide when they want to race, if you don’t push them they will make the right choice for themselves. Young people need the opportunities to allow them to make their own pathways in sport. It doesn’t really matter if you are winning, racing or just training as long as they’re doing something to keep them fit, happy and healthy. Encouragement, opportunities and fun definitely leads to a life time in sport rather a child quitting or becoming demotivated.13696632_232299950497106_1197553179_n1

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