Olympic diver Pete Waterfield told pupils at Devizes School that if they work hard they can achieve their dreams.
Mr Waterfield, who has competed at four Olympic Games for Great Britain, officially opened the school’s new sixth form centre last Thursday.
He took time out from his training schedule in Southampton to speak about his life and career.
He came from a humble background in the East End of London and his father was a single parent bringing up him and his two brothers.
He learned to swim at the age of nine but turned to diving as he found it more exciting. At the age of ten, he won his first competition.
He aspired to compete at the Olympic Games and when, as a teenager, his coach moved to Southampton he followed her to continue training.
He said that at the time it was the hardest thing he had ever done and the first year was the worst time of his life as he did not know anyone.
After he missed out on a medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, he was determined to be successful at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
But six weeks before the Games he injured his foot and was told by the medics he would not be walking properly until the start of the Olympics.
The 32-year-old proved them wrong and he and his partner Leon Taylor won the silver medal in 10-metre synchronised diving.
Mr Waterfield told pupils: “I didn’t give up and I gave it my best shot. Use each other, you can help each other. Good luck with your new facility, it looks amazing.”
The new sixth form centre opened last month and is an extension of the Georgian mansion at the front of the school. It is on two floors and has state-of-the-art technology. It cost £600,000, funded mainly through contributions by developers who have built housing in Devizes.
Head of sixth form Glyn Evans said: “We have got a building which is special. It certainly brings Devizes sixth form into this century. It’s a historical turning point for the students and it is a stepping stone to success.”
Sixth former Tom Mullings, 17, said: “It has encouraged students to try harder because we are in a new environment. It’s less of a chore to come to school, it’s a privilege.”