Duchess of Cambridge jumps out of the starting blocks at London stadium

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

The Duchess of Cambridge has charged out of the starting blocks as she was given expert tuition by gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill at the Olympic Park.

Catherine joined athletes for a SportsAid event at the London Stadium, where she was focusing on the support of families as the “team behind the team”.

SportsAid helps about 1,000 athletes a year, mostly aged between 12 and 18.

Catherine was given an introduction to track and field by Ennis-Hill, after the former Olympian showed the duchess the form she submitted to SportsAid aged 15.

The Duchess of Cambridge is shown how to use the starting blocks at the London Stadium. (Press Association)

She went up against Ennis-Hill and two promising para-athletes, before asking for a re-run.

And she was shown Taekwondo moves by Great Britain’s Lutalo Muhammad. The duchess was pictured checking her foot stance and raising her fists during a tutorial on how to complete a reverse punch.

Muhammed said: “She did well actually, I must confess a lot better than expected. Her right hand is mean, I hope she never has to use it for self-defence but at least she’s got some skills now.”

Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker, an 18-year-old sprinter said of the duchess: “She’s not bad for a rookie.”

His coach Coral Nourice added of Kate: “She was quite excited, that’s why she wanted to have another go. I think she enjoyed it. You could see by her face, I don’t think she fazed by it at all.”

The Duchess of Cambridge got expert tuition from Jessica Ennis-Hill. (Press Association)
Catherine donned trainers for the event. (Press Association)

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Catherine spoke to two groups of parents and guardians about how SportsAid helped them discussing the personal development programmes which are available through the charity.

The parents and guardians spoke to the duchess about the results of a focus group they held.

She also met trustees of the charity as well as long-term supporters.

In a short speech, she said: “The crucial role that parents and caregivers play in our children’s lives cannot be underestimated. 

“For all of you here, you go, and have gone, above and beyond the call of duty; you’ve committed your time and devotion to nurturing your children’s exceptional talents. And as a parent, I have a huge admiration for you and I know just how complex and time-consuming your role is.

“You are simultaneously the transport and logistics managers, nutritionists, laundry service, psychologists, financiers, and crucially, the ones that provide love, support and encouragement when things are tough.

“You may not always feel appreciated, or sometimes even noticed on the sidelines, in the car park or sitting high in the stands. But I am so proud that SportsAid recognises how key your role is and that they understand the challenges and worries you face.”

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington attended the event with her mother Kay.

The Duchess of Cambridge (left) jokes with heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill (centre). (Press Association)
The Duchess of Cambridge is shown Tae Kwon Do moves at the stadium. (Press Association)

Catherine became a patron of SportsAid in 2013, and has since met many young athletes helped by the organisation, as well as Olympians and Paralympians.

Last night, she and William returned to work after a week off for half term with their children in Norfolk.

They attended a charity performance of the musical Dear Evan Hansen at the Noel Coward theatre and afterwards met the cast.

The Duchess of Cambridge (centre) poses for a photograph with young athletes and staff. (Press Association)
The Duchess of Cambridge made a short speech to the parents at the event. (Press Association)

William made a few remarks about the emotional rollercoaster of the play and they both asked the British actors how they kept up the American “twang”.

While the duchess is staying close to home today in London, her husband William is in Nottinghamshire where he is meeting apprentices at the Tarmac National Skills and Safety Park.