Stuart Rendell loves when his students ask him: "Stuart, are you famous?" To which he replies: "Clearly not if you have to ask."
The deputy principal at Lyons Early Childhood School doesn't talk much about his first career as a professional hammer thrower, but if his young pupils have researched his name he's happy to talk about how he competed at the highest levels of the sport.
As a student at the former Scullin Primary School and Beconnen High School, Rendell was the kid who loved physical education and running around at recess and lunchtime. His mother knew he needed to be kept physically active so she signed him up to athletics as a five-year-old.
Rendell was a discus thrower at first, scooping up a few junior titles, but at 6 foot 2 inches (188cm) he wasn't tall enough to be competitive in the men's discus.
One day when he was training with the ACT Veteran's Athletics Club some members were hammer throwing. Rendell attempted it and was hooked from the age of 21.
Training for the sport requires impossibly strong legs and back to counteract the forces at play when swinging around the 16 pound (7.26kg) hammer.
"When you throw 70 metres, the head of the hammer is multiplied by 44 times, so that's 319 kilos, pulling you horizontally," Rendell says.
"You actually have to counter that. Science tells us that's impossible. Technically, you have to be spot on. If you are spot on, you don't fall over."
For 10 years, Rendell didn't experience an Australian winter as he trained in Hungary for part of the year with the best hammer throwers in the world.
Rendell counts representing Australia at two Olympic Games, in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004, as highlights of his sporting career.
However, nothing could beat the roar of the crowd at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 when he made the winning throw and won the gold medal.
"The night I won there was about 85,000 people in the stand, but the noise and the cheer when I remember the winning throw hit the dust, made the place vibrate and you could feel it go through your chest," Rendell recalls.
Rendell says it was very easy to retire after winning that medal in 2006, knowing he had a long and fulfilling career ahead of him as a primary school teacher.
"Teaching is a very, very hard occupation, but it's so rewarding. You get a lot of pleasure out of making a positive impact on kids' lives not only academically but particularly socially and emotionally," he says.
"Sport was my first life and teaching is my second life."
He insists there is no resemblance between him and the fearsome Miss Trunchbull from Roald Dahl's Matilda. However, he did play the child-tossing ex-hammer throwing principal in a dance production in 2002.
On weekends he takes off his educator's hat and puts on his farming hat on the Tarago property he runs with his wife, a fourth-generation cattle farmer.
Rendell was inspired by his own primary school teachers who managed to get the best out of him as an active, chatty child and made learning fun and joyful.
"That's what we want to do here at Lyons [Early Childhood School], we want to bring joy back to learning so the kids love coming in the door and they love learning," Rendell says.
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