EALING youngster Mirzenka Opalinska admits that rubbing shoulders with six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy has left her more determined than ever to launch her own sporting career.
Due to her sterling work during Lloyds TSB’s National School Sport Week last year, budding athlete Mirzenka, 14, was chosen to meet Sir Chris on Thursday.
Mirzenka and three other pupils from Brentside High School, were among the first people to set eyes on the two-time London champion following his round of post-gold media commitments.
In a rooftop hotel restaurant above Trafalgar Square, Mirzenka took full advantage of her brush with Olympic royalty – even getting a chance to hold Hoy’s London medals.
She admitted the experience had left her the envy of the classroom and also desperate to forge an athletics career.
The 14-year-old is a 200m sprint specialist, who trains at Perivale Park athletics track. She said: “It was so inspiring to meet Sir Chris and to get to see his medals.
“I am an athlete myself and it inspired me to train really hard now.
“My friends were all jealous when they found out I was going to be going to meet him.
“We found out a couple of weeks ago we were going to get the chance and I was really excited.
“Last year, our school did lots of things for National School Sport Week and I was a sport leader.”
Despite her brush with a knight of the realm and Britain’s most decorated Olympian, Mirzenka insisted the experience hadn’t been too daunting – largely down to Sir Chris himself.
“He is such a nice person,” she added. “I was expecting him to maybe be a bit arrogant or showing off a little bit, like you see some athletes do, but he wasn’t like that at all.
“He was really nice and it was amazing to meet him.”
Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week is using the inspiration of London 2012 to encourage school sport participation across the UK. TO find out more, visit www.lloydstsb.com/london2012