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My best teacher Jason Gardener

magazine article | Published in TES Newspaper on 23 July, 2004 | By: Matthew Brown

I knew what I wanted to do from an early age. It started with a race across the schoolyard in a first lunchbreak session. I dashed across the yard and found I was much faster than everyone else. Suddenly, I had this respect - I was known as the guy who was fast. Everybody said: "Oh, you're like Daley Thompson." I assumed he was a sprinter. I didn't watch much television so I didn't know he was a decathlete.

I went to St John's primary in Bath, a Catholic school, and there was a nun called Sister Mary who told me I would go to the Olympics one day. I was six or seven. I remember she brought in some medals and pulled me out of class to show me. She said: "If you're good and you work hard, you could win things too."

Later I went to Beechan Cliff, a comprehensive that was formed out of two old grammars, Oldfield boys and City of Bath boys - Roger Bannister went there. They had other good sports players too - Jeremy Guscott (rugby) started his schooling there, plus Jason Dodds and Paul Tisdale who both played football for Southampton. There were a few actors too - Andrew Lincoln, from Teachers and This Life.

I enjoyed it. But the one person who had a massive influence on me wasn't a teacher. It was Peter Roscoe, a parent. I went to the district championships representing the school in athletics and he was there supporting his children. He was a club coach at City of Bath athletics club. Peter Roscoe saw me run and was so enthusiastic that he got me to join.

There was a good PE teacher at the school called Bob de Pledge, who gave me the opportunity to get into the sport. But to be honest, the school was more interested in rugby, and they preferred to see me on the wing with the ball under my arm. I played, but it was against my will - it was freezing, I'd get the ball three or four times and score a try, but there wasn't any joy in it.

When I started running seriously, my coach, David Lease, had to get permission for me to focus on athletics and not play football and rugby.

They didn't want me to do that, but now they are proud I went there. If I hadn't had the opportunity to do district sports, I wouldn't have met Peter Roscoe and gone on from there.

Later, I went to City of Bath college, where I did an A-level and a GNVQ.

College suited me as I had more free time to train and then do my work. My media A-level teacher, Kate Best, was fantastic. She was a good communicator and teacher. I got an A, which was amazing. I went on to Bath Spa university to do media and sociology. College and university were good for me because when things weren't going well with running, I had something else to focus on.

David Lease, struck a deal with me when I finished school. He said if I was to be coached by him, I had to continue my education because he'd seen so many athletes who had nothing when they finished. He had belief in me, and if you get people who believe in you, it makes a big difference. So many people say: "You can't do that. What do you mean you want to be Olympic champion?" But someone's got to be Olympic champion, so why not me? That's why I say to kids when I go to schools: "If you have dreams, persevere with them. Someone's got to do it."

Jason Gardener, nicknamed "the Bath bullet", became the world indoor 60 metres champion in March and is now training for the Olympic Games in Athens. He was talking to Matthew Brown

The story so far

1975 Born in Bath

1980 St John's school, Bath

1987 Beechan Cliff school

1992 City of Bath college

1994 Silver in 100m at world junior championships; gold in 4x100m relay

1995 Selected for Great Britain relay team at World Championships

1998 Silver medal for 60m at European indoor championships

1999 Bronze medal for 60m at European indoor championships; breaks Linford Christie's European record; becomes only third European to run "sub 10" when he clocks 9.98 for 100m in Lausanne; seventh in world championships

2000 Member of Great Britain Olympic team

2002 Wins 60m European indoor championships; gold Commonwealth Games relay

2004 Wins 60m world indoor championships; August: member of the British Olympic squad


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