Youngsters welcome Olympic hopeful and Hackney Weekend Ambassador Philips Idowu back to his old De Beauvoir school

De Beauvoir School children were over the moon when Olympic gold medallist hopeful Phlips Idowu paid them a visit last Friday.

The 33-year old triple jump athlete returned to his former primary in Tottenham Road, and told the whole school, “I’ve come a long way.”

“It is exciting coming in and walking around the playground seeing the classrooms, everything seems so much smaller,” he said.

“And you’re bigger,” piped up a little voice in the audience.

He recounted to youngsters his memories of the day he left school when his head teacher told him he was “the fastest thing on two legs.”

“I thought, “Nah I’m the best footballer,”” he said amid roars of laughter.

“I ended up as an athlete and I look at you kids and you guys have so much potential,” he said.

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Three lucky children were picked to do the honours and try on his the gold medals he picked up in Barcelona in 2010, Melbourne in 2006 and the Berlin World Championships in 2009.

“I was the best athlete in the world then, and I’m proud to say that because at one point I was happy enough to be the best athlete in this school,” he joked, with his trademark booming laugh.

The athlete, who is well known for sporting a variety of hair colours and an array of facial piercings, told the children they should listen to their teachers and parents.

“They all want the best for you. Any of you can achieve gold medals if that’s what you want to do, if you want to play for Arsenal, if you want to play for Tottenham, whatever you want to do - even if what you want to do young ladies is be a mum and look after young babies - you can achieve your dreams and everything you want to achieve, you’ve got to work hard.”

“One more thing, catch,” he added as he threw his cap into the audience, causing a dozen kids to pile up a scrum, all determined to get their hands on it.

Radio 1 organised the visit as part of their Hackney Marsh Weekend event, for which Philips is acting as an Ambassador.

Head teacher Mr Bhanaut said the children had been amazed to have a superstar standing in front of them in assembly and it was an honour to have “the local lad” return.

“They were won over very quickly by his personality, his interaction with the kids was fabulous, I think one of best days we’ve had for a long time at de Beauvoir and long may it continue,” he said.