Tim Baillie MBE presented Priestley College’s annual sports awards last week, but before doing so told how failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics spurred him on to success in London.
“We fell a long short of qualifying for Beijing and, at that point, we were contemplating quitting,” he said.
“We felt that we wouldn’t able to live with ourselves if we didn’t try for the London Olympics and realized we were going to have to develop the mental skills to deal with the pressures.”
Tim told a room packed with Priestley’s young athletes – including both regional and international stars – how a new mindset helped him and canoeing partner Etienne Stott win the C2 event in 2012.
They trained as hard on the mental aspect as the physical and changed their approach from aiming to win to simply doing their best.
“On the day our best was the best,” said Tim, who has now retired from competition.
Priestley’s Head of Sport Nigel Howells said Tim’s story and approach was inspirational for the students who were celebrating a year of sporting success.
“Tim went from zero to hero in the space of four years,” said Nigel. “It is aspirational for the students who have learned that if you don’t succeed first time around keep on going.”
During Friday’s ceremony more than 70 awards were handed out to Priestley’s finest young hockey, basketball, netball, football and rugby players.
There was also special recognition for the college’s swimmers who enjoyed a year of unparalleled success, which saw them represent the North West in a national competition and swim in the London Olympic pool.
There were honours for students whose achievements in the classroom and in exams matched their endeavours on pitches, courts and in pools.
Students also voted for their sports personalities of the year with footballers George Preidt and Chelsey Jukes taking the top honours.
George said it had been inspiring to hear from an Olympian: “It was interesting to hear how Tim failed to reach the Olympics in Beijing, but didn’t let this affect his goal to reach the Games in London. It was great to see his hard work pay off with a gold medal.”