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Paralympic Bronze medallist

Columba Blango Jnr is the current European Champion and record holder in the T20 400 metres event as well as Paralympic Bronze medallist at the Tokyo Games 2020. It was our very great privilege to welcome him to come and speak to our pupils in our new sports hall which he also officially opened.

Columba’s story is inspiring. There were complications during his birth and he suffered a brain clot. He would not leave hospital for several weeks and a result of the brain clot was that Columba would thereafter have an impairment to his cognitive processes, not starting to speak until he was 6 years of age. Despite the challenges he has faced he has shown extraordinary commitment and dedication to his training and done this alongside getting his degree in tourism from Greenwich University.

Whilst being interviewed by four of our boys, Columba revealed how in 2018 he suffered an injury that threatened his future on the track and at this point he questioned whether he could go on. Through sheer determination, working his way through his injury, Columba not only made it back onto the track but went on to achieve a Personal Best that year. It was a message and challenge that we all needed to hear - when faced with our lowest moments, how do we respond and can we see the possibility that we can turn things around to achieve and fulfil our dreams. He also made it very clear that to achieve our dreams requires hard work and determination and nothing should be taken for granted.

The pupils were enthralled as they listened to Columba. At the end of the interview with the boys, Columba took out his medals to show to the boys and he was surrounded by admiring young faces. As he shook hands and gave fist bumps it was delightful to hear some of the boys saying they were never going to wash their hand again - COVID aside, I sincerely hope that will not be the case but it was a charming moment!

On the plaque outside our sports hall is a quote from Columba:

“Education has always been part of my upbringing. It’s about nurturing the gift. Years and years of training led to what I have achieved.”

 

 

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