You can get it if you really want, Olympic medalist Hannah Macleod tells pupils from St Martha’s Primary, in King’s Lynn

Olympian Hannah McLeod with pupils at St Martha's Primary School in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Olympian Hannah McLeod with pupils at St Martha's Primary School in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

An Olympic medallist visited a west Norfolk school to give children the inspiring message that they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

Hannah Macleod gave pupils at St Martha's Primary School in Field Lane, Gaywood, a masterclass in the skills that won her a bronze medal as part of Team GB's hockey squad at London 2012.

But before she did, she took questions from the children and gave a motivational talk on what had helped her reach the top of her game.

'She said she only picked up a hockey stick when she was 13 and she's achieved lots in that time,' said 11-year-old Aoifre McGovern, a former St Martha's pupil who came back especially for Dr Macleod's visit.

James Kerry, 11, another returning pupil, added: 'Her talk made it feel like anyone can just go and achieve anything if you put your mind to it.'

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Sean Kerry, vice-chairman of the Pelicans Hockey Club, which meets at Lynnsport and where many St Martha's pupils play, said: 'If you've got an Olympian standing in front of you saying that you're better than she was at the same age, they perhaps realise their potential and believe in themselves.'

Dr Macleod revealed how she was 'incredibly shy' as a child and that: 'Sport was the only place where I felt confident. Being confident in sport is the only reason I ended up going to university and studying for a PhD.'

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However while the 29-year-old said it was 'easy for me to promote the values of sport, because it has helped me so much', the aim of her visit was to give pupils motivation in other areas as well, such as their schoolwork or future careers.

'The aim is not to find the next generation of hockey players – even though that would be nice!' she said. 'They're still going to learn how to respect each other, how to drive your own development and enjoy learning.

'Sport is really good at teaching you self-motivation and that it's okay to fail – it is how you deal with it that matters and how you drive yourself to do better next time.'

Dr Macleod also praised St Martha's 'absolutely fantastic' attitude to sport.

Her words clearly motivated the children. Aidan Hudson, 10, a current St Martha's pupil, said he was now inspired to go and become a professional footballer for Ipswich Town.

Dona Mathew, 10, another current pupil, said the talk had helped inspire her to become a children's doctor when she was older.

'She told us that if you want to, just go for it,' Dona said. 'If you keep going, nothing is ever impossible.'

Aidan McGovern, headteacher at St Martha's, said Dr Macleod's visit had been 'inspirational'.

He said: 'We participate in a lot of sports here and we talk to the children a lot about achieving their potential and trying your hardest. It's about attitude and what you put your mind to.

'It has a great impact if on their learning if they are confident in other areas, such as sport.'

He added that there were many transferable skills from the hockey pitch to the classroom and life in general, such as the importance of fitness, teamwork and helping each other out.

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