A FORMER John Hampden pupil nearly gave up hockey a few years ago, now he’s going to the Olympic Games.

Nick Catlin from Marlow was selected onto Team GB last week and will be one of about 10,000 athletes competing for the highest honours in sport.

Regardless of what happens, the 23-year-old will leave the Olympic Park with memories to last a lifetime.

It might never have happened though.

Andy Wright is assistant head teacher at John Hampden and was his coach for three years from year 11.

He said: “He was debating whether to give up hockey. He’d represented England at youth level and realised how much committment it would take to go on.

“He was very close to giving up. There was a chance he would go that way, I think he was leaning towards stopping.

“Myself and the director of sport had various conversations with him at the time, but only the person concerned can make that decision because the level of commitment involved is so big.”

Ironically, it was the Olympic Games’ younger sister that convinced him to go on.

In January 2007 he went to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, helping GB to the final where they lost to the hosts on penalty strokes.

The fires were suitably stoked.

Wright said: “I think the Youth Olympics came at just the right time. He came back fully motivated.”

Since then, Champions Trophys, Commonwealth Games, World Cups and EuroHockey Championships have followed on the international front.

Wright said: “His success hasn’t surprised me. “I was his coach for three years but I’m not sure how much I added. He was already very good.

“His ability to read the game is special, but also his skills in a very small space. He has incredibly accurate stick skills and great technique, but it was understated.

“Because he isn’t blisteringly quick, defenders would often think he wasn’t anything special but he’d be past them in the blink of an eye.

“His style almost looked lazy, but it lulled you into a false sense of security.”

Year 13 summed up his value. The school won every single game he played in, losing only in the semi-final of the county cup after he pulled out with injury.

Wright, who has also been invited to GB’s final pool game, said: “We’re still in touch and I got a tweet from him last week saying he’d made it. I was very pleased for him, being aware of what it’s taken to get to this stage.”

Incredibly, Catlin isn’t the only former John Hampden pupil competing in London.

Swimmer Simon Burnett is also one of theirs.