Chorley teacher ready for Olympic bow

Holy Cross High School teacher Stuart Stokes has been selected for the Olympics and wants to put Chorley on map
Holy Cross High School teacher Stuart Stokes has been selected for the Olympics and wants to put Chorley on map
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It has the makings of a television show or even a movie but the story of Chorley’s latest Olympian Stuart Stokes could be one that is talked about for years to come.

The Geography and PE teacher was about to embark on one of his lessons at Holy Cross High School when he noticed a number on his mobile that he recognised.

The 35-year-old said: “I looked at my phone and I knew straight away that it was the Great British selectors.

“I was so nervous and did not know what to say when he told me that I was in the squad.

“I did not react in any way and brought the pupils carried on with the lesson and then when it was finished I went to speak to our headteacher because I would need permission to go.

“I just sat down in her office and it hit me that I was going to the Olympics.

“I burst out crying and was so emotional when I said it.

“This is something that I have been trying to do for a long time.

“I know this is probably going to be my last chance and I had put everything into it.”

The 3,000m steeplechaser quit athletics when he was denied a place at the 2008 Games in Beijing because he was deemed to old.

It is somewhat ironic that Stokes will be one of the oldest members of the squad this time round.

He picked up his GB kit last week and is preparing to go on a training camp to Monte Gardo on July 23 before returning in time for his competition on August 3.

It will be a dream come true for the Horwich runner but he is not a stranger to big competition after qualifying for three Commonwealth Games and represented England.

Stokes is just looking forward to his fairytale experience at the Olympics.

He said: “This is my reward for my slogging it out for 20 years and I am just going to enjoy every single minute of it.

“It has been tough trying to manage my full-time job as a teacher and then having two children.

“I got in great shape and ran the qualifying time in Brussels and then in Spain within 10 days of each other.

“I had a couple of niggles including my hamstring but Holy Cross have been great as they have supported me all the way through and I was able to get some cortisone injections for it.”

Heading into the Olympics, Stokes is in the form of his life after his two times of 8.29 are some of the best in his career.

But it is down to hard work training for the past 20 years for this moment.

He said: “I have been up running at 4.30am seven days a week and running about 16 miles.

“Then in the afternoon I have been doing some weight training and hurdles.

He added: “I just hope that I can inspire some of the young people at Holy Cross to do sport at the highest level and compete at the Olympics.

“I have to say that my dream would not have been possible without the school helping me out.

“The reason I went into teacher was to encourage young people to be active so it is nice for me to have the opportunity to compete at the London Olympics and help them to do sport.

“The amazing thing is that I am the only member of the Olympic squad who is also holding down a full-time job as a teacher so my story is even more amazing.”

Holy Cross High School deputy headteacher, Paul McFarlane admitted that everyone at the school was delighted with Stuart’s success.

He 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.

“All of us at Holy Cross will be cheering him on and we wish him every success in London.”