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Mark Duncan is an assistant headteacher at Coopers' Company and Coborn School in Essex with responsibility to oversee the school's varied sports and extra-curricular programme.  


What school (s) did you go to?


I also attended Coopers' Coborn as a student.  At first it was a bit surreal to be back in the place I grew up in especially as I still work with some of my old teachers.  However, I now feel more of a responsibility than ever to ensure the education, and opportunities, the students receive continues to remain as high, and possible greater, than ever.


What’s your earliest sporting memory?


Being a former swimmer, it’s probably the wave machine at our local swimming centre - the Dolphin in Romford.  It was always great fun - if slightly dangerous by today's health and safety standards - being thrown about in the water at the deep end.  A close second would be meeting Duncan Goodhew when I was five years old at a holiday camp. He certainly inspired me to keep training hard.


Who were your sporting heroes growing up?


Tim Henman was definitely a hero of mine, particularly around the time when 'Henmania' was gripping the country.  I even managed to meet him at the National Tennis Finals back in 2002 when I was a student at Coopers' Coborn.


What are your best and worst sporting memories of school?


Competing in national finals around the country with the swimming and gymnastics teams.  One highlight certainly has to be at Millfield for swimming where we managed to qualify for the finals in the medley relay finishing fifth overall - a great moment when I was in year 9.  A second was when I returned to gymnastics in the sixth form and managed to achieve a silver medal at the BSGA National Team Gymnastics Finals.  That experience is one of the reasons why I try to promote boys' gymnastics as much as possible.


What are your best and worst sporting memories of school?


I don't really have any bad sporting memories at school - other than being tired after early morning swimming and smelling of chlorine!


Can you recall a memorable sporting teacher?


Absolutely, Mrs Barrett, who I worked with until only a few years ago when she retired, inspired me throughout my time at Coopers'.  She coached the swimming, gymnastics and cross-country teams and drove me, and the rest of the team, all over the country at weekends for national events.  She had boundless energy and enthusiasm, juggling so many fixtures at once so that we had as many opportunities as possible, something I try to emulate to this day.


What sports do you play these days?


I regularly play tennis at my local club, Cranston Park, for the third team in the Essex summer and winter doubles leagues.


In what other ways do you stay healthy?


I do try to eat a healthy, balanced diet and regular go to the gym working on a variety of weights, cardio equipment and classes. Particular favourites of mine at the moment are Zuu fitness and RPM - they are led by some great instructors and certainly push my fitness levels, even more so as they know I teach PE.


What is your favourite sporting memory?


It has to be London 2012 - a magical two weeks that I will never forget.  I was a GamesMaker and helped set up the field of play for the Modern Penatathlon at Greenwich Park.  It was amazing to be a small part of something so great that really captivated the whole country and inspired a generation.  


What’s been your most embarrassing sporting moment?


A few years ago in Florida, on the regular school tennis tour, the students wanted to film me running into the sea from the beach and diving in for the tour video.  I proceeded to do my best Baywatch impression however, when diving in, I didn't take into account how shallow the water was and scraped my face on the stones cutting my face from top to bottom.


What’s your biggest sporting bugbear?


When people give up too easily.  You can push your body so much further than you think and you have to remember that failure is part of the learning process. The more you fail the better you get. Anyone can improve their fitness levels and anyone can improve at any sport by having a growth mindset.


When was the last time you cried at a sporting event?


When I crossed the line of the London Marathon - partly in pain and partly in relief.


Which three sports people would you like to have around for dinner and why?


It would have to be Usain Bolt, he would certainly bring the party with him and it would be interesting to hear what it's like being the fastest man to ever live.  Roger Federer, to learn how he stays so motivated despite having so much success and to give me some tips for my unreliable single handed backhand.  Finally, John McEnroe is a great personality, highly knowledgeable, would definitely be entertaining and have some great stories to share.