Former professional cyclist and anti-doping campaigner, David Millar, was our keynote speaker at last week’s Sixth Form Autumn Nightingale Lecture. Our Nightingale Lectures are termly black-tie events and introduce our Sixth Form students to the type of formal dining experience that they will encounter at university and in the business world.

Here, Jamie (Year 13) provides a review of the evening:

“Cheating as a topic is always an uncomfortable one to discuss, cheating in sport is even tougher. Cheating in cycling however is almost the definition of an uncomfortable conversion especially in the recent Sky doping scandal, as well as historically with Lance Armstrong.

Placed in the situation, what would one ask a drug cheat who also was a professional and gifted cyclist without wanting to gloss over each detail? This exact situation was the theme of the latest Sixth Form Nightingale Lecture held last Thursday, and the offender in question was former Garmin-Sharp and Team GB road captain David Millar – he was the first of three British riders to have worn the leader’s jersey in all three Grand Tours in history, as well as being the only British rider to have worn all Tour de France jerseys and one of nine to have worn the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification.

Millar’s achievements all sound fantastic but the bare-faced truth as he admitted at length was that some of these were done as a doper, and what’s more interesting was the admission that, at the time, doping was a fundament necessity to compete in the next level.

The lecture gave everyone in the room a perspective of the three worlds that form part of Millar’s life: the life of a doper, the life of a clean athlete wanting to repair his reputation and, lastly, the life of a retired athlete who did not go the usual route after retirement. Questions came thick and fast from students after his speech. They ranged from the subjective such as why does Chris Froome not receive the credit he deserves to more matter-of-fact questions like how gruelling is the life of a professional cyclist and athlete in general.

Whilst many of the questions and topics Millar discussed played to an avid cycling and sports fan, the wider messages of his life and speech were apparent. The ethos of teamwork, fighting for what you believe in as well as asking for help when needed were the key elements that many thought of afterwards.

The evening was a thoroughly beneficial endeavour for all who attended, and its usefulness will only enhance the ongoing reputation of the Nightingale Lectures for the Sixth Form.”

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