OLYMPIC bronze medallist Emma Wilson, who claimed a bronze in the RS:X windsurfing event at Tokyo 2020, inspired pupils at Ballard School when she returned to her old school for a visit.

Emma, who attended the New Milton school from Year 3 to Year 6, took along her medal to show pupils.

The Olympian is not only a windsurfing champion, but also won the RS:X event at the Youth Sailing World Championships in 2016 and 2017, as well as medals at both the 2018 and 2019 RS:X European Championships.

She was happy to sign autographs and let the children take turns holding, and even wearing, her medal.

She said: “It was fantastic to come back to Ballard to take a trip down memory lane and I loved meeting with current pupils, who were really excited to see the medal and hear a bit about my Olympic journey.

“I shared with them some of the advice which has always helped me - carry on with your dreams, believe in yourself and keep enjoying it."

Emma also shared many happy memories of her time at the school. One of her highlights was playing in Mr Whalen's football team, having never played football previously, and going on to win at the Ballard Festival. She remembered several of the teachers, recalled climbing trees in the grounds, and went to visit her old classroom.

Headmaster, Andrew McCleave, said: “We are rightly proud of all our brilliant alumni who so often go on to achieve great heights in their careers and lives, and we were absolutely delighted to welcome Emma, fresh from her Olympic success.

“For our pupils to hear her story, see her Olympic medal, and know that she has been where they are now, is incredibly inspirational. Emma is testament to what you can achieve with hard work and determination, and a great role model for our many athletes and sports’ minded pupils at Ballard. We wish her every success, including at the next Olympic Games.

“Emma will be competing in Paris 2024 on a new foiling windsurfer, and we will all be behind her and hope to see her back at Ballard with the Gold medal.”