Robertson brings golden touch to Boroughmuir

It’s not often that school sports day champions receive their prizes from a double Olympic gold medallist – but that is what happened to third year pupils at Boroughmuir High School last week.

Scotland’s Shirley Robertson has a place in history as the only British woman to win gold medals in consecutive Olympics – she sailed to victory in Sydney 2000 and again at Athens 2004.

In addition to handing out the awards – Jamie Hamilton and Catriona Richardson won the overall boys’ and girls’ champion trophies – Shirley gave an inspirational speech to the 200 or so third year pupils.

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It was as much about her ability to deal with adversity and overcame failure as much as the glory of winning gold medals and the Edinburgh secondary was just one stop on an extensive schools’ programme.

“We are spreading the word and drumming up enthusiasm to support our 14 Volvo sailors who are competing in the Olympics and the Paralympics,” said Robertson, who comes from Menstrie in Clackmannanshire and was just seven when she started sailing.

“It’s a tour around Britain and the interest in the Games is increasing every day.

“To make it as an Olympian you have to love your sport. I always wanted to go training; there wasn’t a day when I didn’t want to go out on a boat.

“So you have to absolutely love what you are doing.

“And you have to be determined to work hard and make it happen. Youngsters mustn’t be afraid to plough their own furrow.

“We have a good sailing structure in Scotland, we always have – both through clubs and RYA Scotland.

“You can really learn a lot here in Scotland. You have such variety, sailing can be competitive or just for fun. Having an association with schools and particularly the local schools is crucial. In France the sailing is on the national curriculum so everyone gets a chance to try it and a percentage of them will go on and join the clubs.

“I know that RYA Scotland is really working on that connection to schools and clubs and I see that as crucial to the future of the sport.”

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Robertson won her first Olympic title in the Europe class at the 2000 Sydney Games and four years later in Athens her crew in the Yngling class clinched the gold medal. Her role with the Olympics continues through her involvement with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) sport advisory group and she added: “With this year’s Olympics in London and then the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, there is a huge opportunity that has not to be missed.

“We need to educate parents, and make them see that sport is a priority in schools. Sport is very much on the political agenda and I’m hopeful that it can impassion the nation.

“Having been round the schools, I am very aware that the children are keen to be involved and to take part.”

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