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Dame Katherine Grainger’s inspirational talk to teenagers

Headmaster Tom Lawson couldn’t have put it better when he introduced Dame Katherine Grainger to the pupils of Eastbourne College on Friday last week,

In this 50th anniversary of the College educating women, no one could be a better role model than Britain’s most decorated female Olympic athlete.

An academic with three degrees in Law (LLB), Philosophy  in Medical Law and Medical Ethics (MPhil) and a doctorate of Philosophy in law, and five Olympic medals (including gold at the 2012 summer Olympics in London), Dame Katherine (MBE CBE DBE) was the perfect choice to open facilities that cater so well to the needs of some 630 pupils who enjoy them week in, week out.

Dame Katherine’s address was nothing less than inspirational as she detailed the early childhood motivations for her drive to make the world a better place and urged the audience to grasp every opportunity, nurture what they are good at and keep an open mind. A few quotes from her speech are detailed below but we urge you to take the time to watch and listen as it is not every day you get to meet someone of this calibre.

I always had this massive sense of how important justice was in the world, and I decided that I wanted to do something in that area that would do something positive to help in some way to change the world; so applied to go to university to study law.

To me Law is still an incredible tool that will address a lot of the problems in the world and help to rebalance things and bring fairness to people’s lives that need it.

Whatever you do, be really open-minded. Take on things that you don’t know you’re going to be good at, take on things that you don’t know if you’ll like, take on things that you’ve never heard of before.

I started my international rowing career very, very badly … I left that hall and I was so upset, ashamed and disappointed.’ (referencing how she didn’t make the final 16 rowing squad at Edinburgh University in her second year)

There was this incredible moment that I learned in the very first Olympic Games that I did, the power that sport can have when it really unites people and unites the world in the same night.’