Britain’s Olympic stars are drawn from diverse backgrounds and plenty of Team GB’s medal-winners have been inspired by teachers at state schools. But amid the medal haul one private school stands out for its eye-catching contribution – Millfield in Somerset, southern England, has taught seven of the competitors and ex-pupils have won two gold medals.
Helen Glover, who was at the private school in Somerset from 2002 to 2004, won Britain’s first gold medal in the women’s rowing pair. Peter Wilson, who was at Millfield from 2000 to 2005, won gold in the double trap shooting.
The school’s other competitors include swimmer James Disney-May and fencer Sophie Williams. Three former pupils of the school are competing for Ireland, Germany and South Africa.
The school, which charges boarders GBP10,000 (US$15,600) a term, has lavish facilities including an Olympic-sized swimming pool and an equestrian centre. It also has a history of recruiting expert sports coaches including the ex-Olympians Helen Gouldby and Gary Jennings.
The school’s director of sport, Graham Maw, is a former elite performance director for the Welsh Rugby Union. Before that he had a spell as the British Triathlon Association’s performance director.
Maw said: ‘‘When the school was established 75 years ago it was established with sport as one of its central tenets. The ethos of the school was about discovering the potential and the spark within each individual pupil. For some that might be mathematics, for many others it’s in different avenues of sport.’’
Maw acknowledged that Millfield’s pupils benefited from ‘‘sensational’’ facilities but said this was only part of the story. ‘‘You don’t need a first-class county cricket pitch to learn to play cricket. You can still learn and be enthusiastic with modest facilities.’’
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