Thai Boxing Champion Rachael McKenzie visits Wetherby High School

Students Jack Singleton-Mosey and Aaron Woodland practice their punches Thai boxing champion Rachael MacKenzie has been showing some Wetherby High School students just what it takes to be an elite athlete, as they learned and practised some of the skills of her sport. Rachael is a senior athlete mentor with the Sky Sports ‘living for sport’ programme, which aims to develop students’ lives through sport as part of the Sky Academy. Taking the scheme to Wetherby High School, students in Year 9, Year 10, and Year 11, took part in three sessions across the morning, learning technique and putting into practice punches, kicks, and defensive moves. Rachael said: “It is a bit of inspiration for the students, and we’re trying to get them to engage with and recognise that the values they learn in sport, about teamwork, communication, and leadership, are valuable in other aspects of life. “We do work around what it takes to be an athlete, the hard work, resilience, and dedication required, the skills you develop and how that is relevant to the work the kids will be doing in school.” Rachael has topped the thai boxing rankings in two weight categories, has two British titles and a European title. In the ‘living for sport’ programme she leads the Yorkshire and Humber team of elite athletes, who go into secondary schools to provide some free, inspiring enrichment as part of the school day. There are traditional sports athletes leading sessions, but also less traditional sports, like thai boxing, roller-skating, bobsleigh, and volleyball, and the sportsmen and women representing these sports are world champions, providing valuable alternatives to students studying PE and sport. This is the second time she has visited Wetherby High School, after a session on the theory behind what is required to be at the top of the athletic world. The second session provided a key insight into how that theory is applied in the life of an athlete. Another significant focus of the programme for Rachael is providing female role models. She said: “Lots of the mentors are women, and that’s important because the Olympics being held in Britain hasn’t changed the fact that few women and girls are engaged with sport. “We can get that message across to this generation to try and encourage them a bit more, and it’s been great to see girls taking part in boxing at Wetherby High School.” Subject manager for PE Nick Nightingale, who supervised and took part in the sessions, said: “Over the course of the two sessions, Rachael has delivered an understanding not only of what goes on behind the scenes in sports, but also the practical element and how to apply that. “She has pushed our students and inspired them as part of the living through sport programme, and that is huge because it gives them a different dimension to their learning from someone who is a specialist in her field, delivering something very different from the norm.”

Kairo Williams with Rachael MacKenzie

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