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'Too old' Chorley teacher gets Olympic call-up
12:31pm Wednesday 11th July 2012 in Stuart Stokes
Heartache has turned to joy for a Chorley teacher when he earned a fairytale call-up to the Great Britain Olympic squad.
Stuart Stokes, who teaches Geography and PE at Holy Cross Catholic High School, will become the oldest member of Team GB’s track and field contingent.
The 35-year-old 3,000m steeplechaser temporarily quit athletics when he was denied a place at the 2008 Games in Beijing because he was deemed to be too old.
He said: “I can’t believe it. I just got a phone call telling me I was in the team and I’m going to the Olympics. It’s incredible.
“This is my reward for slogging it out for 20 years and I’m just going to enjoy every single second of it.
“I am just going to go there and embrace the whole experience.”
After suffering the agony of four years ago, he can now look forward to running in front of 80,000 people and a television audience of hundreds of millions in the country’s greatest sporting showpiece ever.
The pull of athletics saw him return to competition in 2009, and did well enough to qualify for his third Commonwealth Games, finishing the season representing England in Delhi.
He produced modest times in his three competitive performances last season, before knuckling down to a Rocky-style training schedule last autumn, which has seen him come back to his best this summer.
“I’ve been up at 4.30am every morning, seven days a week, to do my training, and been in bed every night at 7.45pm,” said Stokes, a veteran of three Commonwealth Games, including Manchester 2002 when he finished just outside the medals in fourth.
“That’s been my routine, and I’ve not had a single day off from that, because if you do you mess up your whole body clock. “Everything’s been aimed at getting to the Olympics and it’s paid off.”
He will be the only representative of Great Britain in the event.
The call-up has also led to much pride from pupils and staff at Holy Cross.
Deputy headteacher, Paul McFarlane, said: “It is a great honour for Holy Cross to have an Olympian on our teaching staff.
“We are all immensely proud of Stuart and admire his dedication and commitment to realising his dream of competing in London 2012.
“I am sure he will be an inspiration to our current and future pupils who will be able to say they were taught by an Olympian.”
As the news of Stuart’s successful bid to be part of the Olympic team spread around school, a number of pupils rushed to find him to pass on their congratulations and support. We all wish Stuart the best of luck.
The first rounds are scheduled to take place on Friday, August 3 starting at 1pm, with the final being run at 9:25pm on Sunday, August 5 at the Olympic Stadium.