"It's cool to be taught by our Olympic star'

thisisoxfordshire: Caroline O'Connor back in the classroom at the Oxford Academy Buy this photo Caroline O'Connor back in the classroom at the Oxford Academy

SIX weeks ago she was cheered on by a home crowd while competing against the world’s best rowers in an Olympic final.

But now it’s back to the day job for Oxford Academy science teacher and Olympic cox Caroline O’Connor.

Instead of focusing on stroke counts and shouting orders to her team, Miss O’Connor, 29, has been teaching science to her pupils at the school in Sandy Lane West, Littlemore.

Miss O’Connor, who coxed the women’s rowing eights to finish fifth in the Olympic final, said: “It’s back to reality going back to work, but I’m really pleased to be back, I love working at the academy.

“It’s nice to see the kids and talk to them about my experiences but it’s also nice to get back to normality.

“Of course rowing is part of my normal life as well, but I haven’t been in school as much as I wanted over the last year, so it’s great to be back.”

The former Oxford Brookes University student, who lives in Henley, gave an assembly about the Olympics last term before competing.

She plans to do the same again later this term, this time with a few stories to tell.

She said: “A lot of the kids I taught over the last year have come up to me while I’ve been in the playground and they are all really excited for me.

“Sometimes I have to tell them to calm down and focus on the work, but when it’s the right time, I love talking about it.”

Many of the youngsters watched her races on television, and spotted her in the athlete’s parade through London on Monday.

Pupil Jasmin Palmares, from Greater Leys, said she saw Miss O’Connor in the Olympics and it was “such a honour” to be taught by her.

Fellow Year Eight pupil Rhyas Brown, from Greater Leys, said: “It is really cool that we have a Olympic athlete as a science teacher. It is kind of like she’s a celebrity.”

Russell Knight, 13, from Blackbird Leys, drew parallels between his teacher’s prowess and what he was studying in the classroom.

He said: “It was great watching Miss O’Connor on the television because she does rowing. We are currently studying water resistance!”

Miss O’Connor, who also competed in the Beijing 2008 Olympics, said she hoped to enlist some of the rest of the rowing team to come with her to talk to the children.

She said: “One of the things I really believe in is if you work hard, you will achieve what you want to achieve and that’s one of the things I try to push with the children.”

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