Olympian Crista Cullen at Witham Hall
27 Sep 2016
Crista Cullen, Great Britain Hockey International and Gold Medal winner at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio made a two day visit to the school last week to share her Olympic experience with children, staff and parents. It proved to be a memorable and inspiring time for all.
On Thursday evening, Crista joined the Headmaster in the Stimson Hall for a Parent Guest Night ‘Q&A’ during which she responded to the Head’s questions about her international hockey career (spanning 13 years), the balance of school, university, career and international sport, and the background and ‘inside story’ to the ultimate achievement of winning Olympic Gold. Within her highly engaging and inspiring answers Crista paid a wonderful tribute to Mrs Welch, who she said had supported her ‘personally and unbelievably’ both on and off the field since her arrival at Oakham School, aged 13, in 1998. She recalled the moment when Mrs Welch said to her, aged 14, ‘you have the ability to play for England’ – a belief that she noted was never forgotten in her career. A large and highly appreciative audience of parents (as well as a few alumni) had a night to remember; in many cases the evening incorporated the wearing of an Olympic Gold Medal!
Friday morning began with Crista addressing the whole school at assembly, where she outlined how, aged 5, she had set out on her path in exactly the same way as the children in front of her had done. She talked about the dedication and commitment she had given to achieving her ultimate goal, and related it to any passion the children might have. She noted that her time at Oakham began in the U13C team, highlighting just what can be achieved from any starting point. Her words proved highly inspirational to all present. Crista then spent the morning in the Prep School, attending classes (including taking part in a Science lesson on breathing and heart rates!) meeting pupils, sharing the Gold Medal and signing autographs – primarily on hockey sticks! She then moved to the Pre-Prep in the afternoon where all of the children had an opportunity to meet her and see at first hand the Gold Medal. Reception had prepared their own Gold Medals in readiness for her arrival!