Olympian begins her tour of Inspire+ schools in Grantham

Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin with pupils of National Junior School

Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin with pupils of National Junior School

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Pupils of three Grantham schools have been paid a visit by a local Olympic gold medallist in a tour organised by Grantham-based sports charity Inspire+.

Shona McCallin is a women’s hockey superstar and an Inspire+ ambassador, as of last month.

Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin with pupils of Belmont Primary School

Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin with pupils of Belmont Primary School

In her new role, she has begun a tour of schools. During each visit she gives a short assembly telling how she went to Long Bennington Primary School and Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, and how she won a gold medal in the Rio Olympics 2016. Each assembly closed with a challenge to the children of bringing a gold medal back to Lincolnshire.

The three schools to welcome Shona so far were Belmont Primary School, Belton Lane Primary School and National Junior School. She has now returned to full-time training but will pick up where she left off soon.

** Shona’s biography, supplied by Inspire+:

Shona began playing hockey at the age of six and has since found herself on a rapid ascent through the ranks of elite international players. In 2007 and a year early, she made her International debut on England’s U16 squad, in what would be the first of a remarkable 85 junior international caps.

Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin with pupils of Belton Lane Primary School

Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin with pupils of Belton Lane Primary School

As an extremely active child, Shona was introduced to hockey at a young age by her mum, as a means to expel some energy. She joined the junior section at Newark Hockey Club, where her sister played too. Shona credits Newark HC head coach Christine Fergusson MBE with teaching her so much during those early formative years.

By the age of 14, having participated in multiple sports throughout her childhood, Shona made the decision to focus on hockey, rather than football, as her evolution as a player began to advance. Looking back, she feels certain that her multi-sport involvement was a great benefit to her growth as an athlete, both physically and mentally.

At 15, with an eye squarely on the sport she loved most, the acceleration up the International hockey ladder was almost immediate. From the English U16s, U18s and, ultimately, as the captain of the England and GB U21’s, Shona developed a reputation for being a driving force in the midfield. Scoring 13 goals and multiple medals along the way, Shona’s success included leading England to its highest-ever finish at the Junior World Cup in 2013. Simultaneously, she attended Tilburg University and trained in Holland at MOP HC under the leadership of coach Toon Siepman. It was during this time that Shona honed her game among the world’s best, evolving into the player that she is today.

Shona has now blossomed into a senior level international. She lives and trains full-time with the English national team just outside of London. She achieved her 50th combined international appearance for Great Britain and England during the Rio Olympic Final, a historic night for Great Britain Hockey. The team created history and won Great Britains first ever Olympic Gold medal in womens hockey with over 9 million people watching on BBC 1.

** Find out more about Shona and read her regular blogs at www.shonamccallin.com