Sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie took centre stage on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs on Friday when he revealed how being bullied as a child had steered him further towards Olympic gold.
Presenter Kirsty Young asked him about an allergy he had to the sun as a schoolboy which resulted in his skin blistering and led to some bullying while he was a pupil at Truro School.
Sir Ben said: “When I was younger it also unfortunately covered my face, that’s perfect for most kids to have a bit of a go at. I guess that made me quite a sensitive soul and I did struggle with that.
“It was very upsetting at times. I think it drew me back a little bit and I think that made me quite reserved and very very shy.”
Asked if he has been bullied at school Sir Ben said: “Yeah I was at times and that made certain periods of my school life a very difficult period, you know, it was, and I think the great thing for me was finding sailing and that gave me an outlet and gave me a lot of confidence as well.”
He added: “They opened a new sports hall in my name and so I went back recently. I have to say going back was great and in many ways for me it sort of lifted a whole host of bad memories from school going back there and actually it’s not so bad here and maybe it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it was and certainly I would hate anyone to think there is anything negative about the school as such.”
Among the tracks chosen by Sir Ben were The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, Coming Around Again by Carly Simon. Emeli Sande’s Read All About It and Coldplay’s Fix You.
Asked for a response to Sir Ben’s bullying revelation, headmaster, Andrew Gordon-Brown said: “It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet Sir Ben last October when he came to open the new Sir Ben Ainslie Sports Centre. I was delighted to be able to show Ben around the Truro School of today and hear him talk about how impressed he was at how the school has developed.”