Blind Paralympic skier Jade Etherington was the special guest as De Aston School recognised its pupils sporting achievements last week.
Jade, who was born and raised in Lincolnshire, told the several hundred schoolchildren and parents present that as a youngster herself, she did not get the opportunities to try different sports, let alone celebrate them.
But now she is Britain’s most successful Paralympian with four medals.
“Because I’m visually impaired, with five percent vision, I know you are all there, but I can’t see you all,” Jade explained, and this was why she did not try school sports.
The 23-year-old first tried skiing aged eight and skied recreationally for 10 years before joining the BDST (British Disabled Ski Team) Development Team in 2009.
“I got into skiing. That’s my mum’s fault. She is fully blind. She cannot see anything. She hasn’t seen me, my dad, my sisters. She hasn’t seen a mountain. She skied in front and my dad followed behind. I also followed behind and somehow we got down a mountain,” Jade explained.
“Mum has installed in me confidence. It’s all within you. That’s what my mum has taught me. And what made me go out and get a medal was the passion I had for sport.”
“It was so exciting, I had the adrenaline rush. It’s scary when you are going down a slope at 72mph. I have a guide that skis in front of me. We have radios in our helmets to communicate. If you have passion for a sport, you must carry on,” Jade said.
The Paralympian accepted it was difficult combining sports with study but ended:
“I completed my degree and teacher training while training for the Winter Olympics. If you don’t aim high, you will never get there. Anything is possible. I’m a ski racer and I come from Lincolnshire.”
The evening also saw a raft of awards presented to the students. The Outstanding Sporting Achievement went to Zakery Poole, who has a professional placement with Leicester Tigers rugby team.
De Aston Head of PE Huw Williams said Zakery faced strong competition for the award from Thomas Keast, who has a sporting contract with Nottinghamshire Country Cricket.
Full list of awards at www.marketrasenmail.co.uk