Olympian Jess Piasecki put pupils through their paces as she helped kick off National School Sport Week at Kensington Primary School in East London.
The Manchester-born athlete finished 71st in the women’s marathon at the Olympic Games in Tokyo with a time of 2:55:39.
National School Sports Week is a campaign run by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust. In a bid to drive up awareness of the Chief Medical Officers’ guidance and boost children’s physical activity levels, the charity is this week hoping to get more children ‘playing for fun, playing for 60’ between 19 and 25 June.
Originally launched in 2008 by the national children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, National School Sports Week attempts to champion the role of PE, physical activity, and school sports in allowing all pupils to reach their full potential.
And the 2019 Florence Marathon winner was impressed by the enthusiasm shown by students at the East Ham school.
“Today has been great, I have worked alongside some of the kids, and they are just so enthusiastic,” said the 33-year-old Olympian.
“I can’t remember what I was like at that age, but I don’t think I would have asked any questions to strangers.
“It is really nice to see, and they are really willing to get involved in new activities which is what it is all about.
“They wanted to know how I got into running and what it is to focus on a certain sport.
“National School Sports Week is all about getting all the children active as much as possible, it is really important.
“There are a lot of sad statistics out there, so if we can encourage the children to take part and be more active then hopefully, we will give them the best possible chance to have a great experience of sport.”
Piasecki answered questions and got the pupils of Kensington Primary School to take part in a variety of different sports and activities.
This year, National School Sports Week, powered by Sports Direct’s Sports Slam is themed around ‘playing for fun, playing for 60,’.
The week is aiming to drive up awareness of the Chief Medical Officer’s’ recommendation that children should be active for a minimum of 60 minutes a day to stay happy and healthy.
And having reached the pinnacle of long-distance running, Piasecki was happy to give back to the sport that helped her achieve her Olympic dream.
“I really wanted to get involved because if I did not do sport as a youngster, I would not be doing what I am doing now,” she said.
“I have been competing internationally since I was about 16 but it was at school that I first sort of found the sport and it has become my life.
“Now my training is focussed on qualifying for next year’s Olympics which has come round very fast.
As part of the first day of National School Sport Week the headteacher of Kensington Primary School Ben Levinson ran an ultra-marathon and was joined for stages of the run by Piasecki, former two-weight Women’s Thai-boxing world number one Rachael Mackenzie and Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan MP.
And the Olympian was impressed by the educator’s commitment to inspiring his students.
“It is actually very hot and humid, so I hope he has some drinks along the way,” she added.
“What he is doing is really great and I think for the children to be able to see someone that they see day in, and day out do that kind of activity helps them to relate to it.
“It might feel good at the start, but it won’t be after six or seven hours, so watch your pace Ben and save some for the very end.”
The Youth Sport Trust is a UK leading children’s charity for improving young people’s wellbeing through sport and play. It empowers young people and equips educators to transform lives. Founded in 1995, it works with around 20,000 schools and inspires Changemakers to build a sense of belonging. Its vision is to create a future where every child enjoys the life-changing benefits of play and sport. Visit the Youth Sport Trust website for ideas, tips and information www.youthsporttrust.org.