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Katie Archibald giving an assembly to a school




Olympic champion Katie Archibald inspires the next generation of cyclists

Olympic champion Katie Archibald inspires the next generation of cyclists one month before the start of 2024 Ford RideLondon

  • Cycling superstar travelled to host county Essex to speak to 350 schoolchildren about the importance of active travel and cycling for mental and physical wellbeing 
  • Ford RideLondon begins on Friday 24 May, with Stage One of the Ford RideLondon Classique 
  • Archibald will attempt to become the first British woman to win three gold medals at an Olympics, in Paris this summer 

Double-Olympic champion Katie Archibald took time out of her Olympic Games preparations to speak to hundreds of school children in Essex, as Ford RideLondon marked one month to go until the return of the world’s greatest festival of cycling. 

Archibald is one the UK’s most successful track cyclists, and has a host of titles to her name, having won gold medals in the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, and a combined 25 World and European titles. 

The 30-year-old track specialist, who is aiming to become the first British woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics, in Paris this summer, pressed pause on her schedule to visit Woodville Primary School, in South Woodham Ferrers, in Essex yesterday [Tuesday 23 April] to discuss her journey to becoming a champion, and to inspire the next generation of cyclists onto their bikes. 

Archibald, who returned to the UK having won three gold medals at the Track Nations Cup in Canada last week, spoke to 350 pupils about the benefits of activity and the important traits cycling has given her, including being a better team-mate and the importance of health, fitness and nutrition. 

The visit comes one month before the 2024 edition of Ford RideLondon gets under way with Stage One of the UCI Women’s WorldTour Ford RideLondon Classique between Saffron Walden and Colchester beginning at 11:00 on Friday 24 May. 

Essex hosts Stage Two of the Ford RideLondon Classique, which starts and finishes in Maldon, on Saturday 25 May before the traditional Stage Three finale on Sunday 26 May. 

The mass participation rides of this year’s event also take place on Sunday 26 May with the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100, 60 and 30-mile challenges and the Ford RideLondon FreeCycle, the free, family ride which is held on eight miles of traffic-free roads in central London. 

Archibald, who rides for CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling, which is participating in the Ford RideLondon Classique, said: “Visits like this where you can get kids excited about all of the opportunities that cycling can offer are really important. It is not just a way to stay healthy, but also a way to have fun, get a bit of a thrill, spend time with your friends and go places you didn’t think you could get to so I am very grateful to be able to talk to the children about it. 

“I had a fantastic audience and I got to show off about how fast I can go and what junk food I enjoy, when I am not training! I spoke about setting goals and how when you look a few steps into the future it is much less daunting than 10 steps ahead. It was a fun day talking sport and activity and I hope they were inspired to continue being active and get out on two wheels. 

“I am spending a lot of time training for the Olympics and it was nice to step away and do something completely different with such an inquisitive group of young people.” 

Archibald led a Q&A session with a smaller group of pupils and supported a Balance Bikes session for Reception age children, which supports improved confidence, spatial-awareness and balance skills.  

Kate Archibald with year six pupilsImages by Starr Brothers Films

A new bike shed was installed at Woodville Primary School in 2023 to encourage more pupils to walk, cycle or scoot to and from school, with the funding provided by Active Essex, which receives grants from the London Marathon Foundation to support community initiatives as a result of hosting the Ford RideLondon-Essex events.  

Paul White, Deputy Headteacher at Woodville Primary School, said: “How many times in your life can you meet an Olympian and gold medallist and our pupils have listened to Katie’s stories and how she realised her dreams. It is brilliant to have such an inspirational person here, and I was blown away by the children’s responses and how much they obviously gained from speaking with her.” 

Mr White added that the children at Woodville Primary School would be taking part in the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100-mile Challenge in Schools, whereby schools and education settings can collectively cycle the 100-mile distance the week of the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100, where 15 minutes activity equates to one mile. 

“We encourage active travel in many ways and have a travel plan which is varied and engaging,” said Mr White. “Around 90 per cent of our children travel to school via a form of active travel at least three times a week and we have different initiatives for children and parents to support activity and cutting down on congestion. It benefits the community and the children.” 

Councillor Jude Deakin, Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford, also attended.  

“We want the young people of the county to be as active as possible and hearing from Katie, who was winning gold medals just a week ago, was wonderful,” said Cllr Deakin. “We are so grateful she has taken the time to come to South Woodham Ferrers to speak to the children. She was very encouraging and the questions were varied and interesting. She was very honest and we are so proud she was able to speak to everyone.”

About Active Essex

Active Essex is the Physical Activity and Sport Partnership for Essex, Southend and Thurrock. It was formed in 2013 and continues to deliver a lasting legacy to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. See www.activeessex.org

In July 2021, the physical activity and sport system launched a new 10-year strategy to create an active Essex to improve everyone’s health and wellbeing.

Active Essex will focus on the five main priorities as part of the Fit for the Future strategy; Strengthening Communities, Sport and Physical Activity Sector, Children and Young People, Active Environments and Levelling Up Health and Wellbeing.

Active Essex is a key partner in the delivery of the Essex Local Delivery Pilot. Essex is one of only 12 places in the country to be part of this game changing Sport England initiative and will benefit from a share of around £100 million of National Lottery funding.