EALING youngster Mirzenka Opalinska admits rubbing shoulders with six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy has left her more determined than ever to launch her own sporting career.
Due to her sterling work during Lloyds TSB’s National School Sport Week last year, budding athlete Opalinska, 14, was chosen to meet Sir Chris on Thursday.
With the 36-year-old having only just been released from his media commitments as part of the GB squad, Opalinska and three other pupils from Brentside High School were among the first people to set eyes on the two-time London champion.
And in a rooftop hotel restaurant above Trafalgar Square Opalinska took full advantage of her brush with Olympic royalty – even getting a chance to hold Hoy’s London medals.
Opalinska admitted the experience had left her the envy of the classroom and also desperate to forge an athletics career.
The 14-year-old is a 200m sprint specialist who trains at Perivale Park Athletics Track and said: “It was so inspiring to meet Sir Chris Hoy and to get to see his medals.
“I am an athlete myself and it really inspired me to train really hard now.
“My friends were all really jealous when they found out that I was going to be going to meet Chris Hoy.
“We found out a couple of weeks ago that we were going to get the chance to do it and I was really excited.
“Last year our school did lots of things for National School Sport Week and I was a sport leader and I was one of the people chosen to meet him.”
And despite her brush with a knight of the realm and Britain’s most decorated Olympian, Opalinska insisted the experience hadn’t been too daunting – largely down to Hoy himself.
“He is such a nice person,” she added. “I was expecting him to maybe be a bit arrogant or showing off a little bit like you see some athletes do but he wasn’t like that at all.
“He was really nice and it was amazing to meet him.”
Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week is using the inspiration of London 2012 to encourage school sport participation across the UK. To find out more, visit www.lloydstsb.com/london2012
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