Reading Festival of Sport @ The Abbey, Thursday 23rd – Friday 24th June, Sports Awards

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We continue to reflect on all the fantastic events that have occurred over the course of last week’s Reading Festival of Sport @ The Abbey. The latter stages of the week showed no signs of slowing down and the students had even more to benefit from as we welcomed more guests from our local community into lessons for workshops and talks, heard more from our scholars, and engaged in fun activities and challenges. 

Thursday 23 June

Erin (Lower V sports scholar) led a highly popular dance workshop at lunchtime in the gym. Students (and staff!) had a go at one of her routines – a musical theatre sequence to the song ‘We Go Together’ from Grease. Everyone had a great time learning the energetic routine and learning from Erin, who also showed the students one of her group competition pieces and answered questions on her experiences in competitive dance. 

Continuing this busy lunchtime session, Jessica (Lower IV sports scholar) also performed to a packed gymnasium. She showed her floor routine that she recently performed for Team South at the National Grade competition. We had a great time watching some amazing tumbling and artistic skills. Jessica also answered questions about her training schedule and her ambitions in gymnastics in the future. 

In the afternoon, we were happy to welcome back Reading University Volleyball Club to coach our Upper III and Lower IV. Whilst this was going on, alongside Mrs Sikorski, our new Sports Captains – Amelia and Heather (Lower VI) – had the opportunity to interview local Para Powerlifter Louise Sugden. Louise kindly took a short break from her intense training schedule in Loughborough to discuss what she has learnt from her plethora of achievements, from representing Team GB to winning a World Cup gold medal, as well as what motivates her and what her goals are moving forward to the Commonwealth Games this summer. 

Finally, in an after school session, the lecture theatre was full to hear from sports psychologist and retired artistic swimmer, Katie Hooper. Katie reflected upon her journey of 15 years in professional sport and how she managed some of the highs and lows. One of her key messages was to ‘control the controllables’, as there are many factors that could impact upon performance. This was such a valuable moment for our students and we are extremely grateful for Katie to take the time to share her knowledge of both elite performance and sports psychology. 

Friday 24 June

Round out the week with our busiest day yet! Throughout the morning, Upper III got to work with alumna, Maria Tsaptsinos, in a table tennis masterclass. This was very popular and our students were intrigued to find out more about what Maria is looking forward to most when she represents Team England at the Commonwealth Games later this summer. There was also diving in the pool, run by Albatross Diving Club. Utilising our fantastic pool and boards, the coaches focused on technique and students got lots of turns jumping off all the different platforms! 

We had two fantastic scholar showcases running at lunchtime, focused on racket sports. Tranthini (Upper IV) plays badminton and competes regularly in high level competitions, recently in a national tournament in Austria. She guided students through some serve techniques, helping individuals fine tune their grip and placement. She followed this up with a classic game of ‘round the world’! Meanwhile, Cara (Upper IV) worked with tennis players going through serve repetitions and rallies. Cara is Berkshire county champion in junior tennis so it was excellent to see our Aegon and club players learning from her singles and doubles experiences. She even finished off the session with a tennis facts quiz! 

Then, it was time for the staff v students cricket match! Arguably the highlight of the week, twelve members of staff took on our Lower V GSSE PE cohort in a fun cricket match (with some even donning cricket whites for the occasion, mentioning no names (Mr Le Fleming). It was great to see a variety of staff who have hidden talents; Miss Cook gets a specific mention! Lots of big hits and great bowling on both sides ensured a very close game; so close in fact, that it came down to a no ball, extra ball and a wicket in the last over. Eventually, the students won by one run. Congratulations to:

Student bowler of the match – Siya

Student batter of the match – Louisa

Staff bowler of the match – Mr le Fleming

Staff batter of the match – Dr Prince

In the afternoon, Lower V had many exciting options to choose from! We had weightlifting (many thanks again to CrossFit Reading), boxing with Michael Sprott (Commonwealth and Heavyweight boxer) and basketball with Steph Johnson (Reading Rockets). This was such an exciting end to the week and our Lower V students worked exceptionally hard across all sessions. 

Many thanks also go to Kayla Bell (GB wheelchair basketball team) who shared a good luck message with us for the Reading Festival of Sport. Junior school students were excited to learn that she will also be coming in next term to share her experiences as the current World and European Silver medallist. 

Competitions – basketball shooting, cricket bowling and table tennis

Well done to all who took part and gave it a go! These competitions ran constantly throughout various lunchtimes in the week and the winners are:

Basketball shooting competition – Daniela (Upper IV)

Cricket bowling competition – Riya (Upper III)

Table tennis competition – Emily (Upper IV)

Sports Awards

It was a pleasure to hold the Sports Awards for our Upper III to Upper IV students on Friday evening. This event celebrates the sporting achievements of our Lower School students. It was even more of an occasion, given it was the first time for all of them attending one of these! Following a drinks reception our speaker, Terezka (Upper VI), opened the event. Having only completed her final A Level that afternoon, it was a pleasure to have her speak to our Lower School students before she leaves. From her experiences in National Performance League netball for Surrey Storm and studying at The Abbey, she was able to offer key messages to younger students; continue to enjoy and be passionate for your sport, as that is what drives you to keep going, and also to know who is around to support you. 

After our meal and before the presentation, we all watched a video of sporting highlights from the past year. It was great to see students smiling and laughing as they looked back upon the year in pictures and videos! 

Some of our students have written about their experiences and favourite parts of the evening:

“I really enjoyed the Sports Awards last Friday. It was lovely to receive colours for all the sport in the last two years and it was great seeing my friends and so many others receiving their colours and certificates for such a variety of sports. My favourite part was seeing all the photos of us from the past year which brought back some amazing sporting memories. Next year, I’m looking forward to all the sports starting again and to hopefully compete in lots of the upcoming matches and tournaments”.

Hannah (Upper IV sports scholar and Junior School Physical Education Cup winner)

The Reading Festival of Sport at the Abbey was a true celebration of women’s sport. The evening was dedicated to the students, their sporting achievements and their determination. The evening began with arrival drinks, a scrumptious three course meal, followed by the prestigious award ceremony and an exhibition straight from the Saatchi Gallery in London. 

I am honored to have received my sports awards. This experience has inspired me to work harder and continue to strive to reach my goals throughout my sporting journey. I am enormously grateful for the encouragement and ongoing support from my sports teachers. 

Riya, Upper III

Going to the Abbey Lower School Sports Awards was very exciting and interesting! It was so inspiring to hear from one of the older girls and gave me a handy insight to playing sports while revising. I am very excited to wear the abbey colours on my school skirt and continue playing sports. I really enjoyed the sports award ceremony – also the food was great!

Susie, Upper III

Many thanks to our parents and students who attended, we hope you had a lovely evening, and a very big well done to all our certificate, colour and award winners. 

As always, we would like to thank the teams around school that are a huge part of making these events happen; maintenance, catering, IT and marketing, thank you! 

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