PUPILS at a Darlington school have been inspired to aim high by an Olympic volleyball star.

Peter Bakare, a member of the Great Britain volleyball team at the London Olympics in 2012, visited The Rydal Academy, which provides a wide range of extra-curricular activities for pupils.

“To make it to the Olympics in my home country and see 20,000 people watching in the stadium was amazing,” he told the pupils. “There’s nothing you can’t achieve if you work hard, set high goals and keep taking steps towards them.”

Peter explained how he had grown up in a poor community in Stratford, London, close to the Olympic stadium and it became his dream to represent his country.

He owed his start in sport to a group of friars who supported the community where he lived and set up a basketball hoop for children to play.

“I started playing basketball when I was nine or ten and practised every day,” he explained.

When he was 18, his basketball coach recommended that he should switch to volleyball and, despite initial reluctance, he quickly thrived in his new sport while also studying animation at university in Sheffield.

After training for five hours day, Peter’s dedication was rewarded when he was selected to make his debut for the GB Volleyball team against Serbia. However, he suffered an injury while training and was side-lined for three months.

With the 2012 Olympics less than two years away, he redoubled his efforts to get back to fitness and regain his place in the GB team.

Headteacher at The Rydal Academy, John Armitage, said: “Our aim is to raise aspirations for all our pupils and Peter is a fantastic example of someone who fulfilled his dream through dedication and making the most of his talents.

“The extra-curricular programmes we provide are not just to support the children’s well-being and personal development but to encourage social skills and team-building.”

The Rydal Academy offers 50 free extra-curricular clubs per week across the year, covering all year groups. The clubs are run by school staff, with around 800 places filled per week.

The school also offers free childcare from 7:30am to 6pm through a breakfast club and youth club.

Children at The Rydal participate in PE two days out of three for more than 2.5 hours per week and have swimming lessons from Year 1 to Year 6.

They compete in all local sports events and have free access to 13 extra-curricular sports clubs per week and across the year, including: disability sport, football, Kwik cricket, dance, cross country, athletics, gymnastics, TAG rugby, hockey, mini-tennis, cycling, High-5-netball, basketball.

Last year, 368 pupils represented the school at 21 inter-school events and festivals and Mr Armitage said: “Our hope is that one of those 368 pupils gets to live their dream just like Peter!”

• Peter’s visit was organised by Sports For Schools. To find out more go to www.sportsforschools.org