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Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Monday, 26 July 2010 19:12 UK

Blair Academy, USA

World Class 2012 in partnership with the British Council bring you the stories of the schools where the dreams begin.

Blair Academy is twinning with Tomlinscote School and Sixth Form College in Surrey
Blair Academy archway

Blair Academy

Number of students - 440
Number of staff - 100
Where in the world? New Jersey, USA
Years Luol attended: 2001 - 2005

A private, co-educational boarding school in the state of New Jersey, Blair wants to be as much a community as it is a school, and the 440 students from 22 countries across the world are encouraged to feel a part of it.

Headmaster, T Chandler Hardwick III, believes the supportive and encouraging bond built between the staff and students is the key to the success of their boarding school.

"They gain a true sense of what it is to live and learn in a community of peers and teachers who truly care about them as individuals, students and friends," he told us.

From Brixton to Blair

Students at Blair Academy
Students at Blair
Luol is a real inspiration to the worldwide Blair community
Headmaster, T Chandler Hardwick III

Memories of Luol at his time in New Jersey reveal the journey of how the boy from Brixton in London, became a man at Blair.

After gaining a scholarship, Luol arrived at Blair as a homesick, lonely boy who missed his mother.

Headmaster Hardwick recalls the successful growth of Luol as he became "increasingly respected as a thoughtful leader, not just a superb basketball player."

Luol has now become one of the most popular students in Blair's history. His dedication to his father's wish, of always being a student first and athlete second has made him a real inspiration to the current crop at the Academy.

Whenever Luol gets the chance, he returns to Blair, recently appearing on campus for the graduation of the Class of 2010. He also takes the time to speak to international students who may have trouble settling into school life as he once did.

Coaching Luol

Luol with Coach Mantegna
Luol with Coach Mantegna
Luol had an ability to spot a weakness in his game then effectively work on it and build from it...We knew he had the mental make-up for greatness
Coach, Joe Mantegna

One man who knows Luol better than most is Blair's Head Basketball Coach, Joe Mantegna.

Coach Mantegna remembers clearly the first day Luol came to Blair, recalling the image of a tired boy, still dressed in his church shoes and slacks who hadn't slept in 24 hours. Luol spent 10 minutes training and that's all it took for Coach Mantegna to realise he had something special.

"His grace of movement and natural talent could be spotted a mile-off," he said.

When asked for his lasting memory of Luol, he simply replied: "He's a better person than he is an athlete." Quite a feat for one of Britain's greatest sports stars.

World Olympic Dreams

Luol is one of the athletes being tracked as London 2012 approaches and they strive to make their Olympic dreams a reality.

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see also
Superstar Deng spreads the basketball word
16 Aug 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Luol Deng serenaded in Sudan
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Tom Daley introduces World Class 2012
27 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams

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