Former Olympian Mike Tagg helps children get healthy at his granddaughter’s school in Dereham

Olympian Mike Tagg with pupils at Toftwood Junior School. Picture: Ian Burt Olympian Mike Tagg with pupils at Toftwood Junior School. Picture: Ian Burt

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
6:30 AM

Toftwood Junior School is going for gold in an award which champions it as a happy and healthy place to be.

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Mike Tagg with his sister Mary when they both selected to compete at the Mexico Olympics. Picture: Ian BurtMike Tagg with his sister Mary when they both selected to compete at the Mexico Olympics. Picture: Ian Burt

So what better way to kick off their Healthy Week than with a motivational talk from a former Olympian long-distance runner.

After a childhood of playing football and never feeling very good at it, Mike Tagg, 67, started training on the track with his sister.

And the decision to swap his football boots for running shoes changed his life – taking him to him to the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968, aged just 21, as well as winning him a silver medal at the European championships in Athens in 1969.

Now a grandfather, from East Harling, and the founder of shoe shop Mr Shoes, Mr Tagg visited the school near Dereham on Monday to inspire the youngsters to work hard and follow their talents. “There may be one person who benefits from my talk in the assembly,” he said.

“My thinking was that if you work hard you have a chance of achieving. We learn more from defeat than we do from victory. When you get set-backs it can make you more determined.

“It’s very easy to have a lot of interests but the thing to do is to maintain that interest and follow it through.”

His granddaughter Lucie Younie, nine, is in year four at the school and says she takes after her grandfather with a gift for cross-country running. “I feel proud of my granddad and hope I get to do what he’s done one day,” she said. “I have learnt from my granddad to carry on and try to do something and never give up.”

Teachers hope Mr Tagg’s talk will help the children with their projects, which will in-turn help achieve the gold medal for the school.

Kate Smith, deputy headteacher, said: “We want the children to realise that actually anyone can have a passion and achieve their goals,” she said. “When Mike started out he wasn’t the fastest and he wanted to play football, so he fell in to running.

“I want the children to have that idea that you don’t have to be completely amazing to begin with.

“We want the children to be having a go at everything. Mike found something, he had a go at it and found he was pretty good.”

Is your school being visited by an interesting person? Email rosa.mcmahon@archant.co.uk

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