Inspiring students to reach for the sky in sports

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Students at Tadcaster Grammar welcomed ambassadors from the sporting world who inspired them to reach for the Sky.

Representing Sky Sports Living For Sport, British tennis player Jade Windley and World Thai-Boxing champion Rachael MacKenzie spent the day with 16 Year 8 and 9 students.

The sporting duo gave students the background of their journey to the top of their chosen sport and the qualities needed to achieve such success. They also delivered practical workshops which focused on developing their teamwork, communication, organisational and leadership skills, as well as resilience.

Jade Windley has won three singles and 16 doubles titles on the ITF tour in her career. In April 2014 she reached her best singles ranking of world number 279.

Having only started Thai-Boxing in 2000, Rachael MacKenzie’s hard work and determination paid off when, in 2006, she topped the Women’s Thai-boxing world rankings in two weight categories (50kg and 52kg). Rachael has also taken two British titles – both by knockout – and a European title. Throughout her Thai-boxing career Rachael has had to overcome prejudice from people who do not believe women should compete in contact sports. Her success and perseverance has helped Rachael to improve the profile of, and opportunities for, female Thai-boxers. Following a knee injury, Rachael made the switch from Thai-boxing to Boxing, taking silver at the National Championships in her first season. Rachael is also taking on the role of Senior Athlete Mentor this academic year, using the expertise she has gained from previous years on the initiative to visit schools which have already completed Sky Sports Living for Sports projects and help them to continue to develop and improve their students’ lives through sport.

Having been an Athlete Mentor for several years, Rachael said: “My role as an Athlete Mentor has enabled me to inspire and motivate young people across the UK to be the best they can be. Sky Sports Living for Sport offers a great channel for young people to achieve their goals and better themselves,”

“The young people I meet are so inspiring for me. It is amazing to see so much enthusiasm and desire to achieve. By learning new skills and disciplines that they can apply to all aspects of life, today’s youngsters can really strive to achieve all their aspirations.”

“It was a fantastic day that will help the students in their school life and beyond,” said Rob Solk, Faculty Leader: Physical Education. “This experience will enable these students to work on a project which they will deliver to the school community in June this year,” he added.