Olympians chat with Matthew Pearce Public school students

GASPS of incredulity rang out through Matthew Pearce Public last week as pupils heard Olympians say they trained for five-and-a-half hours every day.

“That’s as long as you are in school,” London Olympics gold medallist Yolane Kukla said.

In an Australian first, she ‘‘appeared’’ at the school via a live video hook-up — one of only 17 organised by Telstra nationally.

Watch the News' video of the Olympian interacting with students, shot by Carlos Furtado below:

Featured in the video is year 6 pupil Aniruddh Chennapragada, of Bella Vista.

Kukla was part of the 4x100metre women’s freestyle relay team who won Australia’s first gold medal at the Games.

She is also the youngest swimmer on the 2012 Australian Olympic Team at just 16.

Joining her in the video conference was Olympian Annabelle Smith who finished fifth in the women’s 3-metre synchro diving event at the Games, with Sharleen Stratton.

‘‘We didn’t get to march in the opening ceremony because we raced two days later but we did hold our own mini ceremony,’’ Smith told the 37 Matthew Pearce pupils who were invited to attend the 4.30pm video call.

Selection was based on their outstanding achievements in sport.

Questions ranged from what do the Olympians eat for breakfast (Kukla said Weet-Bix and bananas), who their role models are (Smith’s is Olympic gold-medal sprinter Cathy Freeman) to what they thought of Mr Bean’s cameo appearance in the opening ceremony (Kukla was asleep already, but Smith found it pretty funny).

But the big laugh came when Kukla was asked what goes through her mind when she is standing on the starting block about to compete.

‘‘I think nothing really,’’ she said, sending the children off into peals of laughter.

‘‘That probably sounds really bad but it makes me stay relaxed.’’

Her nickname ‘‘Yo’’ also drew a few smirks.

“Hopefully these video chats will inspire the athletes to lift their game that extra bit, as well as encourage the kids to realise their dreams and if they work hard to achieve their goal [to know that] anything is possible,” Telstra representative Andrew Bogg said.

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