THE GREATEST ever British Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave put schoolchildren through their paces in a once-in-lifetime PE lesson.

The five time gold medallist was joined by England women’s defender Casey Stoney at The Deanes School, in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, to help coach more than 200 pupils.

The pair, who were clapped as they arrived yesterday, are part of Sporting Promise, which introduces alternative sports, such as dodgeball, to secondary school pupils and improves primary school sport.

They also met Year 5 pupils from Woodham Ley Primary School, Kingswood Junior School, Robert Drake Primary School and Kents Hill Junior School, whowere taking part in a day of athletics while their teachers went back to the classroom to learn ideas for sports lessons.

Speaking to the 25 teachers, Sir Steve agreed there is a need for competition even at primary level.

He said: “From day one it is a fight for survival, it is something we need to embrace and not shy away from.” He added: “The scary thing about primary school is if you’re doing teacher training you only get two days to teach sport.

“They could be doing maths, English, science, drama and arts as well as sport and if they’re not a sporty person they’ll find two days training to deal with sport really difficult.”

He answered questions from the pupils, including how much money he had made from rowing, to which he joked he had a lot of gold medals, but unfortunately no real gold.

Casey, who is set to take part in her third World Cup next year, told the pupils about playing in the boys team at Runwell Primary School, in Wickford, as there were no girls teams, before being signed for England by the age of 15. She said: “It is always nice to come back to your roots and back to where it all started.

“When I was growing up we were very very poor. I used to get my football boots out of recycling bins, I didn’t have a nice school uniform or nice shoes.

“For me sport has given me so much more than just playing, it has changed my life.” Robert Drake pupil Harry Jackson said: “It has been so fun. It has been a really good opportunity and I met an Olympian.”

Deanes pupil Alan Gilbertson said: “It has been brilliant. I have played dodgeball a couple of times but this time it was with one of the greatest Olympians.”