Long jumper lifts Olympic spirit at Akiva

By Jennifer Lipman, April 6, 2012

There were gasps all round when Olympic athlete Chris Tomlinson demonstrated to pupils of Finchley's Akiva Primary just how far he can jump.

The British indoor and outdoor long jump record holder - who competed at the Beijing Games and won a silver medal at the 2008 World Indoor Championships - used a tape measure to illustrate his 8.35 metres personal best in the event.

His visit was part of a double Olympic attraction for the end-of-term assembly, which kick-started the school's commitment to the Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week at the end of June.

Also present was Leslie Lyndon, a volunteer at Akiva, who will be carrying the Olympic torch when it passes through Barnet.

Pupils were thrilled to to see the torch up close and, in some cases, to hold it.

Four pupils also had the opportunity to test their long jumping ability, with the winner presented with an Olympic shirt by Chris Tomlinson.

Asked by one girl whether Olympic athletes needed to be tall, he answered that it was no disadvantage. But pointing out that star heptathlete Jessica Ennis is only five foot five, he reassured her that "you don't have to have long legs. If you're shorter, you just have to try really hard." In any case, sport was about more than winning. "It's about being healthy and active. It's a great way to meet people."

Pupils leaving the assembly said they had really enjoyed the experience.

Ten-year-old Marni said of Tomlinson: "I don't think I've ever met anyone that tall."

Last updated: 9:56am, April 10 2012