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Olympic hurdler hopes for indoor champion teacher

Year Four teacher Miss Knight is known to everyone at Danetree as a star on the athletics track as well as in the classroom.
And she has put the frustrating experience of lockdown to good use as she pursues her dream of a place in the Great Britain Olympics team at the Tokyo Olympic Games, which should have taken place this year, but were postponed until 2021.

Although she is British indoor 400m champion, her preferred event, and the one she hopes will take her to Tokyo, is the 400m hurdles. Training for this in lockdown, she said, was particularly difficult.

“My road is about 600m long, so I was running up and down with the distance marked with cones,” she said. “Most of the time I didn’t have hurdles, but fortunately one of my friends works at a private school and I managed to borrow some, so then I could use them in the park, but otherwise I was running on the pavement and the road all the time. 

“It’s a bit difficult running at full pelt when people step out of their driveways. You can’t put the brakes on, but at least it improved my response times!”
This year, in the run-up to Tokyo Miss Knight will be working at the school part-time, which she says will give her the best chance to focus on both strands of her career.
“At first I was devastated when the Olympics were postponed, I thought I’d got myself to a world-class level and you get impatient, but thinking about it, now I’ve got another year to get quicker,” she said.
“This year has been all about experimenting so next year I’ll have a solid plan and hopefully it will be even more successful.
“I’m so lucky to be at Danetree. This school gave me my chance as a new graduate teacher with no experience and with their help, professionally I’ve gone from strength to strength.
“Everyone’s also incredibly understanding and supportive about the athletics, so whenever I run, I feel like I have a huge fan club behind me.
“Teaching is so rewarding, too. Standing up in front of the class and having a good lesson, when you can see the children have learnt something and had fun, is absolutely priceless. As well as teaching, I love just getting to know them as individuals.”
Miss Knight says she owes her success to being inspired by her own teachers, and watching Dame Kelly Holmes win two gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Now, she would love to inspire children at Danetree, in the classroom and beyond.

“I set myself step-by-step goals, so first of all I’ve got to get into the Great Britain team, and then we’ll see what happens,” she said. “But this time next year I’d love to be back here at school and be an Olympian.”