A former Olympic rower has encouraged Monmouth students to embrace life, exploring their own gifts and abilities.
Three-time world champion rower Debbie Flood gave an inspirational talk to pupils during yesterday’s Chaplain’s Assembly at Monmouth School for Boys.
Debbie won silver medals for Great Britain at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and now works for Christians in Sport, providing opportunities for athletes to explore their faith and learn more about God.
“I was not a natural rower but playing sport was a big part of my life at school and I remember watching the Olympics and thinking the athletes were superhuman,” recalled Debbie.
“I was the only person at my school who rowed and I took up the sport by chance when I was 17 years old after having a go on an indoor rowing machine as part of my judo training.”
Debbie made a slow transition to her new sport, however.
“I was coming last in my novice races and I often struggled to control the boat. The coach told me I would never be much more than a club rower.”
Undeterred, Debbie worked hard on her rowing, received important technical coaching and was picked for the GB junior team later that year.
“What matters most is the amount of effort you are willing to put into things,” insisted Debbie.
“My life’s plan was to row full-time for two years and then become a veterinary surgeon.”
Instead, Debbie enjoyed a rowing career of 15 years at the highest level, and worked as a prison officer.
She said: “The boys at Monmouth have great abilities, gifts and I would encourage them to explore the things they enjoy and to keep persevering at all times.
“It is not easy to do something at the highest level and to be proud of it because you can have good days and bad days.
“However, it’s important to work hard through the ups and downs. You will discover more about yourself and your own robustness when things don’t go according to plan and you can learn about your own gifts and how it has an impact on others.”
Debbie was invited to Monmouth by the Chaplain at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, Reverend Clifford Swartz, and she enjoyed speaking to children, including the school’s rowers.
“Jesus is such an important person in my life and we have all been blessed with various gifts and abilities,” said Debbie.
“We all have a purpose and value and I would encourage all the children to embrace the life and take on those gifts.”
She added: “My main role with Christians in Sport is to encourage athletes and to help Christian athletes look back to their faith and stability, because that is where their true identity lies. People are not just a set of results or medals, they are much more than that.
“I encourage athletes to work hard and I provide opportunities for other athletes to explore their Christian faith and learn more about who God is in their eyes.”