Meet Mhairi Evans
Tell us about your career as a modern pentathlete. At what age did you get into the sport and how did it progress?
- I was in to a lot of sports when I was growing up but mainly swimming, running and horse riding. I competed a lot in Pony Club Tetrathlon which combines shooting, swimming, running and riding. I watched the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was inspired by the Modern Pentathlon athletes and decided to learn fencing and give it a go. I was 16 when I did my first full Modern Pentathlon having been fencing for a month which was the British championships which I won. From there I was talent spotted by the GB Junior coach and began competing in internationals the following year. At 18 I moved to the University of Bath where I studied and trained with the British team for the next 15 years. After graduating from the University in 2008 I became a full time athlete until I retired from the sport in 2015. Along the way I had many highs and lows most notable was becoming 2012 Senior World Champion and competing at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Do you think sport is an essential part of development in a child’s life, even if the child isn’t particularly strong in a sport? Why?
- Sport is an extremely important part of a child’s life and development because it teaches so many qualities that we need in all walks of life. Learning to follow rules, deal with victory and defeat, team work and motivating ones self and others for me are some of the key learning outcomes. We cannot forget that no matter what level of sport people participate in that it is foremost fun and good for our health. Children can gain a great sense of achievement at all levels of sport, because there is so much room for improvement and so many different sports to try, learn and perhaps in some cases master.
What do you enjoy most about your current role at Ashford School (Head of Modern Pentathlon) and what developments do you wish to see in the department in the future?
- Within my role at Ashford School I get to support lots of different athletes at different stages in their career. I have athletes who are at the beginner stage of the Modern Pentathlon journey and some who are already at international level which keeps my job exciting. It is also great that I can use my experience as an elite athlete to support athletes in other sports who need advice on stepping their performances up.
Tell us about your most rewarding moment in your teaching career.
- Some of my most rewarding moments have to be when some of the pupils who take up laser shooting at the Senior School and then take part in their first competition as it’s so lovely to see their hard work pay off. It is always great to open up new opportunities to pupils that they may have never experienced before. I also find every Athletics term extremely rewarding as normally we uncover a hidden talent in one of the many athletic events which always leads to an exciting term of competitions.
Do you have a favourite memory from your own schooling days? What is it?
- When I was at primary school I moved schools and the new school had a very active cross country team which I joined. This was the first time I really experience camaraderie going hand in hand with competitiveness having come from an extremely small school before. We had a great few years competing in many cross countries and athletics events as a tight-knit, competitive team.
What do you most enjoy doing outside of sport?
- When I was an athlete I spent a lot of time travelling and resting to recover from hard training sessions so I developed a strong passion for reading and writing. I love to read fantasy books. I also love to walk my dog Donald who was a well done gift from my mum and dad after I retired from full time sport.
How do the students that you teach inspire you, and how do you inspire them in return?
- The students constantly surprised me and surpass expectation. When met with challenges they always meet them head on and work hard as a team to achieve goals. I think I inspire them by pushing them to aim high but cope with disappointment in a positive way.
What would you do with your life if money wasn’t an issue?
- I would have lots of dogs. I would also love to set up a foundation that could support young athletes on their journeys to (hopefully) Olympic Success.