Conference urges girls to go for gold

MORE than 600 girls from schools across the country flocked to Eastbourne on Wednesday to meet with Olympic gold medallists Sally Gunnell and Robin Cousins.

The stars were guest speakers at the annual Girls Go Gold conference, which was held at Moira House Girls School in conjunction with the University of Brighton.

The day, organised by the Girls’ School Association (GSA), is a national event to encourage, celebrate and promote women in sport, both through participation and careers.

Cousins, the 1980 Olympic figure skating champion, opened the day with a short speech and video from Baroness Sue Campbell that set the tone for what was to be an inspirational and motivational day.

The students, all of whom represent their country, region or county in their chosen sport or study GCSE, AS or A2 PE, participated in workshops throughout the day in areas such as Sport and Exercise Science and Sport Journalism.

They also got the chance to listen to a special presentation on motivation in sport from the explorer and round-the-world yachtswoman Rosa Cant.

The day ended with key-note speaker Gunnell giving a talk about her experiences as a professional athlete and the challenges she faced on the way to becoming an Olympic 400m hurdles champion in Barcelona 1992.

Gunnell, the only woman to hold Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic track titles simultaneously, then passed around her medal before posing for photographs with the students.

After her speech, which was filled with jokes and a thrilling video of her winning race, she said, “On the back of such a successful Olympic Games, especially for the women, I think it’s really important for athletes like myself to take part in events like these that will hopefully inspire the next Olympic champion.”

• See page 57 for more photos of Sally Gunnell at Moira House Girls School.