Double Olympic and World rowing champion Andy Triggs Hodge MBE received a hero’s welcome when he dropped into his former North Yorkshire prep school.
Hours after taking gold in the weekend’s World Cup eights rowing, the double Olympic gold medallist and World champion spent a morning with pupils and staff at independent prep school Belmont Grosvenor, on the outskirts of Harrogate.
In an exciting assembly at the ‘outstanding’ co-educational school, Andy played a recording of Team GB’s coxless fours Olympic win at Eton Dorney – and shared with pupils from reception to Year 6 his personal inspiration behind the victory.
“We had trained for 49 weeks of the year for that one race. We knew what we had to do and we were focused,” Andy told pupils in the Belmont Grosvenor School hall where he used to sit cross-legged in assembly as an eight-year-old boy.
“But close to the end, do you know what I was feeling? I thought I couldn’t take another stroke. I had spent so much of my energy and had tried so hard, I didn’t think I could do any more,” he said.
“But hearing 30,000 people screaming for you and the team to win got us through. We dug deep, found bigger and better strokes, kept going, and won,” said Andy.
He praised Belmont Grosvenor, which is based at Swarcliffe Hall, Birstwith, near Harrogate, for inspiring him to always do his best when he was a pupil at the school. He stated: “It all started here, at this school. I was one of you guys, sitting in this hall,” he told pupils.
“I remember getting the art prize and it inspired me, it made me believe in myself, and believe that I could do something better. There are so many things in life, it might not be rowing, but I hope you find that one thing and that it brings you as much success and pleasure as rowing has brought me,” he said.
After handing round his two Olympic gold medals – from Beijing and London – to pupils, Andy presented awards to school sports day winners before helping hang his photo and signed rowing bib from the 2012 World Cup on the wall in Swarcliffe Hall.
Andy had last visited the school in 2008 shortly after his gold medal success at the Beijing Olympics. While at the school he opened its new outdoor play area and amphitheatre.