THE former teacher of Hartlepool Olympian Jemma Lowe is not surprised at her success as she prepares to represent her country at the London games.
Her dedication and talent to swimming was clear to Dave Pickford, who was head of PE at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool, when Jemma was a pupil there.
Tomorrow she will take her first step towards an Olympic medal as she competes in a heat for the 200 metre butterly.
Dave, now assistant head at the Elwick Road secondary school, revealed how Jemma would train before and after school yet still made time to fit in her studies.
He said: “The thing that always impressed me about Jemma was her level of commitment which you need at that kind of level.
“To be able to do that plus do well in her studies is very difficult.
“That extra level of commitment beyond wanting to be just top of the class takes something special, and Jemma is one of those people who has it.
“She was a fantastic student and everybody at the school is really proud of her.”
Jemma worked to inspire other youngsters to take up sport after leaving High Tunstall by working with the Hartlepool School Sports Partnership.
She was also named Women’s Tees Valley Sports Personality of the Year the year after completing her studies.
Dave is confident Jemma will put in a good performance in London this week.
He said: “She is a really nice girl and somebody who deserves to do well for all the hard work and commitment she has put into it, and I wish her the best of luck.
“I think she will give a fantastic account of herself. Obviously the standard is massive. The Great Britain swimming team will be hoping for medals and if Jemma was one of them, that would be brilliant.
“However well she does, everyone at High Tunstall is very proud of her.
“Just to get there is massive to begin with. She is among the best in the world, it is a big achievement for her.”