Colwyn Bay schoolteacher stresses importance of education first for young sports stars


Dean Jones

A COLWYN Bay schoolteacher has stressed the importance of putting education first after the recent revelations of a former Olympic athlete.

Allen Boyd, who is director of sport at Rydal Penrhos, also outlined the ways that the school helps its sports scholars academically after an emotional interview with the BBC by ex-badminton sensation Gail Emms.

The retired star had a successful career, with an Olympic medal the pinnacle, along with World Championship mixed doubles gold in 2006 and two Commonwealth golds.

However, nine years since she retired, Emms has been surprised and dismayed by the difficulties of finding a job - and, as a mum of two sons, it has affected her family life.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “I turned 40 last week and I have no career path. Yes, I can keep doing the motivational speaking but when your bookings are very short and low on the ground - and this is the situation I’m in - that’s the reality of it.

“Everyone assumes that just because you are an Olympic medallist, you are made for life. People assume I drive a fast car.

“I get to go to events, I get to do great things, but I need to build, I need a job, I need a career for me and my family.”

Mr Boyd stated that at Rydal Penrhos the academic success of pupils’ is of paramount importance, with sporting success outlined as their “Plan B”.

The school has enjoyed enormous sporting triumphs over recent months, producing a number of internationals in rugby, rugby league, swimming, sailing, weightlifting and table tennis.

He said: “Pupils are expected to be performing at their best academically and sport should always be their plan B, plan A is an education and a career.

“They can’t really choose a career in sport, it chooses them but they need to be prepared for when that decision comes.

“There we very few sports that are professional and very few opportunities within those that are.

“One way we help our scholars to stay on track is through our Talented Athlete seminar programme where pupils and parents are fully involved in target setting with pupils, both sporting and academic, to ensure we all know what our responsibilities are, especially the scholar as they are the one who will need to be incredibly hard working and diligent to make it all happen with a strong support network around them.”


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