WatchFit Expert Contributor, former TV Gladiator and GB pole vaulter Kate Staples, has teamed up with a sporting icon to bring athletics to schoolchildren.

Q. You have founded and are running Daley Thompson Athletics Academy with the great man…

Yes indeed. We have actually worked together for years with my Adventure Boot Camp business but we decided to do this after the London 2012 Olympics which, as many people will know, Daley was a big part of.

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We wanted to take advantage of the momentum and were keen to do something positive with that and help drive the legacy forwards.

Daley Thompson Athletics Academies_4Q. So what is it all about?

Put in its simplest form, it is all about running, jumping and throwing – the elements that made Daley Thompson, arguably, the greatest all-round athlete in history.

We operate out of a number of great sites and in fact we have just announced five new dates and venues for February next year during the half term holidays (details on the website).

We are joined by other talented athletes and qualified coaches who’ve represented GB at major events, and we cover the latest drills and techniques, play games, go through conditioning and fitness and have Q&A sessions with the team – which is always good fun!

In the older group we go into areas like nutrition and pre-competition technique too.

Q. What ages do you cover?

8-10 and 10-15

Q. Is it all part of a talent search?

No not at all. The important thing is that we get children engaged, being active and having fun. It’s not about who is the best and ignoring the rest. However, as and where clear talent does shine – and it does happen – then we’re ideally placed to identify it and chat to the parents, talk to the school and advise about athletics clubs and coaches.

Daley Thompson Athletics Academies_3It would be silly not to keep an eye out for special abilities and great natural aptitude. We have encountered a few already.

But the Academies are not for this purpose specifically, they really are an inclusive setting for all children to get a taste of athletics, learn from great coaches and have a good time.

Q. What is it like working with Daley Thompson?

Entertaining! Those who remember him from his days of competing will recall that he was a huge character.

Well that wasn’t an act!

He does things his way and is a bit of a maverick, but he is a great man and a truly inspiring person. Like all people who have not just achieved at the highest levels but re-written the history books, Daley just radiates something special and pretty undefinable.

And he is absolutely brilliant with kids, a total natural!

Q. Do the children have any real understanding of whose presence they are in?

Perhaps not to start with but it doesn’t take long to explain who Daley is and his place in global sporting history; unbeaten for a decade, double Olympic Champion and simultaneous holder of every major championship title and the world record. And then there was BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Once they hear that kind of thing they realise he is a bit special!

It is the parents who are generally rather in awe of him and they have usually been banging on about Daley to their children long before the event.

Q. And yourself of course who is remembered by millions as Zodiac from Gladiators…

Ha ha….yes some do remember the ‘Zodiac years’ on prime time TV. But we come back to the Mums and Dads again – many of whom were probably teenagers at the time, which is a slightly alarming thought!

Having said that, the original Gladiators series have re-run on Challenge TV so it did pick up a new generation of fans. It is nice to think we might have inspired a few to get fit and active back then and hopefully they kept in up.

Daley Thompson Athletics Academies_2Q. Athletics is in the news for the wrong reasons at the moment

Yes there is no denying that, but we can look at this as a time for things to be addressed acted on and the sport can come out the other end and move forwards in better shape than ever.

We are very conscious of this current situation which makes it more important for us, with the Daley Thompson Athletics Academy, to reach the children and instil all the best values of not just athletics but all sport and life in general. It has certainly been a bad few months for Track & Field but if there is anybody who can helm things and sail these rough waters it is very definitely Sebastian Coe.

Q. I see Lord Coe himself has provided a personal testimonial for the Academy on your website

Yes he did kindly do that and no, he was not given the words to say!

He and Daley are great mates and have been since their days as world beaters in athletics. They worked together on the 2012 Olympic bid and also the delivery of the Games.

The respect between them is immense and it was very kind of Lord Coe – who recently became President of the IAAF is basically in charge of international athletics – to support us like that.

Find out more about Daley Thompson Athletics Academies

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