A Conversation with Head Boy Harry Leleu

Harry Leleu and the Brownlee Brothers at the Petworth House Triathlon last yearSeaford College Head Boy Harry Leleu has been at Seaford College since Year 7. A talented triathlete, he is balancing an intense training schedule with his A-Levels, and is planning to go to university to read Physics. He aspires to one day compete in the Olympic Games.

What have you enjoyed about being Head Boy at Seaford?
I enjoy responsibility and I like being a leader, like on the Charlton Chase. We won it this year and I loved going out with the boys and pushing ourselves. I like being a role model, sitting at the front of Assembly with the younger kids looking up to me. The Head Girl Sasha and I lead a team of prefects; we coordinate the rota for lunch and break time duties. Sasha and I set up peer-mentoring; last year was a trial and this was the first year we did it properly. The peer mentors all have training and lots of them have had students coming up to them for advice. I’m really impressed by how the whole system works.

What do you study at A-Level?Harry Leleu running at Seaford's Sports Day
I am studying Physics, Maths and Human Biology.

How has Seaford supported you in balancing your busy training schedule with your studies?
All the teachers are really understanding of all the training I do. In Year 11 I was doing really early swimming practices in Chichester, from 4.30-7.30am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I would have breakfast at 3.30am and leave at 4.00am. My swimming was off at that point, so I joined a really hard swimming club, which helped to bring my swimming up. But then my schoolwork really started to kick in at the same time, but the teachers understood that I had been up early and helped me with my preps. The teachers at Seaford always go the extra mile. I remember sending an English essay to Mrs White one Saturday night, and she marked it whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing and sent it back to me. I get most of my work done at school, prep time is really useful for that.

Harry Leleu winning the 3000m at West Sussex WestHow does all the sport you do help you with your studies?
All the scheduling I do means that I am very strict and disciplined with my studies. Sport acts as a relief for me, an outlet, you can’t keep studying all of the time. Getting out on a bike gives you a break, and when you’re exercising you think about things in a different way and you come up with different ideas.

What sports do you play at Seaford?
I started to play rugby at Seaford in Year 7, and I played until Year 11. The last time I played was on the South Africa rugby tour, which was a really fantastic end. But there’s a high chance of injury in rugby, so I had to give it up. I love watching the 1st team play at Seaford. In the summer I take part in athletics. From Year 8 I was competing in the Senior team, going to the Hurst meets, the West Sussex West competitions. I run the 800m, 1500m and the 3000m. Now I’m also helping Mr Thompson with the team.

What are your future plans and aspirations?
I’m applying to university, and I’m hoping to go to either Leeds or Loughborough to read Physics. It’s a great subject, and both universities are the best for triathlon in the country. The Brownlee brothers went to Leeds. For a career, I would want to do something related to Physics, possibly engineering or banking, something that would work with me. I am also aiming for the 2020 Olympics, so for the next two to three years I would need to compete at a really high level nationally, getting into the top three to five. The UK is really the best at triathlon, and it is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. They pick three to four athletes to compete in the Olympics; there were three at London 2012. It might be the 2024 Olympics, it depends on each year, but I think I’ve got the potential to do it.

What advice would you give to pupils hoping to follow in your footsteps?
For triathlon, when you’re younger take it easy, don’t overdo it. There used to be guys I would compete against who would win all the time, but they fell away. When you’re young, do it if you enjoy it; if you don’t enjoy it don’t do it all. Certainly as I started to move up I enjoyed it more. Also, when you’re older, it is really important to get a balance between sport, work and social life. You’ve got to sacrifice something, you can’t have it all.

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