OLYMPIC bronze medallist Jenny Jones has inspired the next generation of sportsmen and women after visiting her former primary school.
The snowboarder, who was the first Briton to win an Olympic medal on snow when she took bronze in the slop style competition at Sochi 2014, returned to Hambrook Primary School on Monday as part of a day of celebrations to welcome home the 33-year-old from Downend.
Two pupils from each year, parish councillors and villagers greeted Jenny as she arrived with South Gloucestershire Council chairman Cllr Ian Boulton. She then met former teachers and staff who worked at the school while Jenny was a pupil, from 1984 to 1991.
Dawn Rutter, a general assistant who worked at Hambrook for 28 years, presented Jenny with a knitted Easter rabbit in the Olympic colours and Anne Jarrold, who taught Jenny when she first attended school in reception, brought along a whole school photograph from the early nineties.
Mrs Jarrold, 74, from Old Sodbury, said: “Later on she was in the netball team and I used to teach that.
“She was very agile and very, very quick. She was always in the right place at the right time.
“I always thought she would do something sporty but maybe not as a career. I knew she had won the X Games and then we heard she was in the Olympic team. It was exciting watching it.”
Jenny was guest of honour at a full school assembly where pupils sang her a special song, Give It All You’ve Got, and gave her three cheers. They asked questions including her favourite memories of primary school, how she got into snowboarding, what she thinks about whilst plunging down a course and how she keeps fit.
The Olympian, who also attended The Ridings High School (now Winterbourne International Academy), told pupils: “It is important to remember at the beginning you might not be the best at something. But it really doesn’t matter.
“If you keep persisting at something, trying hard every day, you will eventually succeed in what you are trying to achieve.”
Heather Lewis, 11, from Downend, said: “It was really exciting to find out that out of all the schools, she came here.
“I want to be in the Olympics as a sprinter when I am older so I found meeting her really cool. She definitely gave me inspiration.”
Jenny met current teacher Rhianna Thomas, who was a pupil at the school at the same time, and Sue Forse, whose daughter Lucy was in the year below her. She was presented with a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of champagne, a painted picture of the school by teaching assistant Sally Griffiths, a book of pictures and poems by pupils and a basket containing a mug, pen, tea towel and a Christmas pudding bearing Hambrook’s logo.
Head teacher Jo Dent said: “It has been very exciting, partly because the school has a connection with her.
“Jenny actually asked to come here, which was brilliant.
“I think her visit has definitely given the children a buzz about sport and we certainly aren’t going to get much work done in the next few days.”