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Olympic gymnast helps students achieve success

Craig Heap 2016 (2)Students have been learning how to be champions by ignoring “the chimp” in their decision-making.

Former Olympic gymnast Craig Heap returned to Bede Academy, in Blyth, to share his six keys for success with a new group of Year 10 boys.

He told them:

“Bad decisions come from the chimp. I know young people who can make good decisions. We might not always enjoy where we are in life especially when things get tough – I didn’t enjoy those days when I was swinging around with blisters on my hands, but I really enjoyed the end product.

“You’ve got the ability to change your life right now by making some decent decisions.”

Craig, who brought home team gold medals from the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002 and will be part of the BBC commentary team at the Rio Olympics later this year, now speaks to young people as a mentor and motivator with the Sky Sports Living for Sport programme.

“It’s about motivating people to achieve their dreams. Not everyone is interested in representing their country in sport, they might want to set up a business or travel or be the first person in their family to go to university.”

Having started gymnastics aged nine with his sister, he fought a judgement that he was not strong or flexible enough to make the national squad and go on to represent Team GB at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

“What interests me now is what is success and how can we be successful in our lives,” he said.

“I’m constantly trying to develop myself and I’m becoming a better person through that. You might not achieve a gold medal or an A*, but if you strive to be the best you can be then you will be successful.”

Later Craig, who is a board member of Tyne & Wear Sport, was questioned by A level PE students about funding for sport, the high points of his career and how more young people can be encouraged to get active.

Director of sport at Bede Academy Simon McAree said:

“Craig is a dynamo whose energy and enthusiasm always fires up our students. His story and his determination to be successful is inspirational and shows our students what it’s possible to achieve if you work hard enough.”