Commonwealth Games champ to help young pupils recover from lockdown in Milton Keynes

Gold medalist sprinter Leon Baptiste is to pay a special visit to an MK primary school to lift pupils' spirits.

By Sally Murrer
Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 4:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 4:20 pm

Knowles Primary School in Bletchley has organised the event through Sports for Champions (SFC) in order to help support the mental and physical health of the pupils

A spokesman said the school needed to 'recover and rebuild' after the effects of the pandemic.

They have organised a fundraising page to raise £1000 to replenish the school's budget and pay for the event, during which Leon Baptiste will tell his story, show his medals and empower the pupils to be champions themselves in their chosen fields.

Leon Baptiste was a champion sprinter

SFC events are held in support of schools, which keep 60 per cent of the funds raised to spend on resources that will enrich young peoples’ education. Professional athletes in need of support are the only other beneficiaries from the remaining 40 per cent.

An SFC spokesman said: "While we’re not all athletically inclined we strongly encourage participation, because all youth have talent and require inspiration to pursue their dreams - whatever they may be! After 10 years of success, we can promise a highly memorable event."

Leon Baptiste said began his career in football but sustained a knee injury at the age of 14 that forced him to look for another sport.

"When I was 15 my mother took me to my local athletics club trials where I instantly got a buzz for the track and felt like I could really achieve again. I quickly progressed and began representing my county team and within a few years I was representing at an international level.

Leon won two Gold medals at the 2003 European Junior Championships and was subsequently named Junior Male Athlete of the Year by the British Athletics Writer Association.

In 2010 he won the gold in the 200m at the Commonwealth Games, claiming England’s first Commonwealth sprint gold since 1998.

"In 2014 I officially announced my retirement from competitive athletics and decided to put all my focus into a coaching career," he said. "My story proves that you can achieve anything as long as you work hard and take it one day at a time. Since retiring, I have developed a new passion for boxing which I train for three to four times a week."

SFC says fitness is "essential" for every young person’s general wellbeing in physical and mental health.

"It is also proven to be a strong booster of learning potential or brain power. By inspiring children as champions of tomorrow, SFC envision youth growing in all walks of life as healthy, [pro] active community-minded talents," said the spokesman.