A sports-mad 18-year-old from Barford has returned from the trip of a lifetime reporting on the Rio Olympic Games for news broadcasters around the world.
Simon Thompson, a former pupil at Warwick School, was the press attaché for the Marshall Islands in Brazil, working closely with athletes throughout the games.
He has been covering the Olympics for a Manchester-based company called ‘The Reporters’ Academy’ who have strong links to the Pacific island nations.
Simon said: “The most enjoyable part of the trip has been getting to know my team. The contrast between Pacific Island nations and Team GB for example is huge. The Marshall Islands like most of the Pacific nations at the Games recognise the fact that they are not a medalling country, and for them the success stories come from the individual performances. The target for most of my athletes was to beat their personal best times, which 4 out of the 5 athletes I covered did.
“Another stark contrast has been how easy it has been to contact the team, in England most of our famous Olympians are huge celebrities, however the Marshall Island athletes are mostly teenagers about my age and so it has been very easy to talk to them as if they were any other person.”
Aside from interviewing athletes, Simon accompanied the team on trips such as visiting Christ the Redeemer.
In the past Simon has interviewed the likes of Lord Sebastian Coe and Christian Homer OBE for his school podcast and covered the Pacific nations of Samoa and Tonga during last year’s Rugby World Cup.
He says his Olympic trip has made him even more determined to work in sports journalism.
He added: “This trip has been overwhelming for me really, not only for the fact that it probably doesn’t get much bigger than this in terms of global sporting events, and for someone like myself, who is sport crazy, this has been a dream come true.” he said.
“In terms of atmosphere it didn’t get much better than the noise inside the Maracanã stadium when Brazil clinched the football gold medal with Neymar’s winning penalty in the shoot-out. That will certainly be a memory I will never forget, an 18-year-old who is football mad, observing a nation who are football mad, winning the Gold medal in their home Olympics in one of the world’s most iconic stadiums.”
Earlier this month Simon received his A Level results and secured a place at the University of Hull to study British politics and legislative studies.