Sevenoaks Olympian Joe Choong visits old school to inspire the next generation

Joe Choong meets with Sevenoaks School pupils Eva Okaro and Zachary Raymond.

Joe Choong is the number one ranked Pentathlete in the world, a two time Olympian and the first British athlete to win a gold in the pentathlon in its entire history. Unknown to many, he had actually attended primary school in Sevenoaks, and had trained at Sevenoaks Swimming Club from the ages of 10-18. With Joe’s strong ties to the town of Sevenoaks, Zachary Raymond, a pupil at Sevenoaks School, thought it would be a great opportunity for school students and members of Sevenoaks Swimming Club to hear him share his journey. After getting over the initial surprise that Joe agreed to take part, Zachary writes…

With an audience of approximately 50 people, we chose to use the server on top of the school’s Sennocke Centre as the venue as it overlooks the swimming pool while also housing the jerseys of famous sports people that have attended the school.

As Joe arrived, an electricity seemed to pass through the audience. It seemed almost absurd that an Olympic gold medallist would even want to visit our small town of Sevenoaks but here he was. We quickly made introductions and jumped straight into the talk. Joe was an incredible speaker captivating people with his enthusiasm and his passion while also giving very practical and effective advice. A phrase which really stuck out to me was this: “At a certain point in every athlete’s career you have to recognize that hard work is not just exhausting your body every day, it is actually paying attention to every detail in every one of your movements, it is the perfecting of all the little things that make the biggest difference. “I thought that this was something that I could apply not only to my swim training but to all areas of my life.

Joe Choong with his Olympic gold medal and a member of the Sevenoaks School PE Staff

Besides advice on training, Joe also went into detail on his career in the sport of pentathlon. A surprising theme which became apparent as he elaborated on his career was that even as an Olympic champion, Joe was not born a genetically gifted champion. As he said himself “People can’t even imagine that I was ever bad at the sport, but I had to work to get where I am now.” Of course, this was extremely inspiring to all the athletes in the room, and it is proof that it is possible for any of us to get to the top, it just depends on how hard we work.

Finally, I thought that the symbolic gravity of the talk could be felt by everyone in the room. The building in which he was presenting was where his whole career had started and to come full circle after winning his Olympic gold was a moment which touched the hearts of all the people taking part.

I would just like to end by saying that Joe is the most humble and amiable people I have ever met. I am extremely proud to be part of the same swimming club in which he swam, and I am in admiration of all he has achieved in his career. Thank you for coming to visit us!

Editor’s note: Thank you for sending us this wonderful report Zachary, it’s good to know that the next generation are interested in both professional sports careers and sports journalism too. Well done.