Cool kids: Leah keeps on inspiring students
EVEN during a break from hectic training and competing on the world stage, Leah Neale makes time to encourage others.
But that's the loyalty the Ipswich-bred swimmer regularly shows.
Leah, 22, spent time at Silkstone State School on Wednesday afternoon, just one day after returning to Ipswich following 10 weeks overseas.
She'd competed at the recent world championships in Hungary, adding a bronze medal to the silver 4x200m freestyle relay medal she won at last year's Olympic Games in Rio.
Leah had also swam at a number of international meets during her extended time away.
So soon after Leah came home, Silkstone State School teacher Amelia Jackwitz was thrilled the Olympian could inspire the school's sports class students in years four to six.
Leah attended Silkstone State School before continuing her education at St Mary's College.
"She is so humble and we greatly appreciate the time that she gives back to our school and students,'' Jackwitz said.
Leah's visit was timely with the 2018 Commonwealth Games just months away on the Gold Coast.
The Ipswich freestyler hopes to retain her place on the Australian Dolphins team she has been part of since 2014.
"We are all very excited and have been promoting the Commonwealth Games with the students,'' Jackwitz said. "Our students are so inspired by Leah and she is always so willing to give back to her community that supports her in her sporting endeavours.''
Leah's visit was part of Silkstone's sports program where students can apply to be in the "sports class'' when in years 4-6.
Jackwitz teaches the year six sports class.
David Faulkner teaches year four students and Mitchell Firman looks after the year five kids.
"It is imperative to us that we foster a positive behaviour system where students have to complete their curriculum work and act responsibly to be able to partake,'' Jackwitz said.
"We strongly encourage a respectful and caring environment where students are able to achieve their academic and sporting goals.
"Sportsmanship and thanking teachers and coaches is very important to our students.''
Silkstone's sports program has been running for 10 years.
"When speaking to past students, many express that being part of the program was a highlight of their primary schooling years and that is where many were taught the key techniques that they still prac- tice in their chosen sports year later,'' Jackwitz said.
Leah is a classic example, often speaking highly of her years at Silkstone where she also played basketball before concentrating on her swimming.
But as highlighted on her latest Silkstone visit, Leah shows other Ipswich kids what can be achieved.
"I strongly believe that sport and co-ordination link with academic success, which has definitely been proven in my classroom this year,'' Jackwitz said.
"All of my students have greatly improved and had fantastic results in all curriculum areas, while being actively involved in many music and sporting teams.
"We recently participated in our annual sports camp at Runaway Bay where many Commonwealth Games athletes will be training, which the students were incredibly excited about.
"Leah gives the students hope that anything is possible and is very supportive of the sporting program at our school and comes back to visit whenever she can.''
Leah's mum Karen has also taught at the school.