Somerset's Olympic Hopefuls
PUBLISHED: 16:05 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:12 20 February 2013
As Olympic fever sweeps the globe, here in the UK we will also be looking ahead to 2012, when it is our turn to host the Games. 'Somerset Life' talks to young champions who have their sights on gold at the 2012 London Games, and discovers how Some...
On 24 August 40,000 people are expected to head for The Mall as the Olympic flag is handed over from the Mayor of Beijing to Boris Johnson the Mayor of London. The occasion is being described by Sebastian Coe, chair of the London Organising Committee, as 'The beginning of a four-year journey'.
Although we may be far from the spotlight,
In the lead-up to the
The high-quality sporting facilities include a number in
Famous for hosting mountain bike events, Broadway House Caravan and Camping Park in Cheddar could be providing accommodation and a cycling venue for some of the world's top competitors. Meanwhile, the facilities in the Princess Royal Sports Complex at Wellington School have been included in the guide for the Olympic sports of archery, fencing, handball, judo, table tennis, tae kwon do and wrestling.
The guide will be launched on 14 August in
"We are very pleased that the outstanding facilities we have to offer at the school have been recognised in this way by the LOCOG. The London Olympic Games will undoubtedly be one of the greatest sporting events ever seen in the
Although we may be far from the spotlight,
Team Bath is the
A spokesman for the training centre and former Olympic sailing gold medallist Bryn Vaile says, "Our aim is to get British Olympic athletes to the starting line in the best possible condition, but we want to offer the facilities to other teams if we have the capacity. All of the facilities are available on the one site here, which is an attractive package for a number of sports."
A new initiative aimed at supporting local talented athletes has been launched by North Somerset Council's sports development team. Supporting International Sportspeople in North Somerset (SISNS) is aimed at any athlete who is in training to represent their country, by offering free access to facilities at local leisure centres.
Somerset County Council has launched a unique scheme which should ensure the county reaps lasting benefits from the 2012 Games. Through the Olympic 500 Club, companies or individuals can donate £500 or more a year for four years, with the aim of raising £1 million. The money will be split between supporting
The project has been spearheaded by Somerset County Council chair Alan Gloak and the fund is administered by The Somerset Community Foundation - an organisation independent of the local authority.
Teenage cycling sensation Dougie Dewey from Somerton was the first Olympic hopeful to benefit from the 500 Club. The 19-year-old, who was British Time Trials and Track Champion, is now balancing his training with mechanical engineering studies at
Others who have received a jump-start to their sporting dreams with a grant from the Olympic 500 Club include basketball ace Andrew St John from Coleford, near Radstock. The former
Naomi Hoogesteger's Olympic dreams have been kept afloat as her grant has gone towards a much-needed new kayak. The 27-year-old from Westbury-sub-Mendip has already won a medal at the Rowing World Championships held in
Sophie Burr from Emborough, near Shepton Mallet, was just five years old when she took up trampolining and the 15-year-old has already represented
Sophie, who has been Somerset Schools' Champion for the last six years, says that being in the 2012 Olympics would be a dream come true and she has been inspired by meeting swimmer Mark Foster. The six-times World Champion, who trains at Team Bath based at
Sophie joined Mark during filming of the BBC's 'Inside Out West' programme when he investigated benefits the 2012 Olympics could bring to the region, and he was impressed by Somerset County Council's Olympic 500 Club.
Sophie's grant will go towards the cost of equipment and training and her mother, Sally, is grateful for the help from the scheme. But she stresses that more funding is needed for groups like Lesley Pleasant's Skydivers Trampoline Club in
"It's a struggle and they desperately need to replace the equipment. We have shown that things can be achieved with nothing but Lesley has done such a lot for the children of Shepton Mallet and she now needs help."
Another grant has gone to ten-year-old trampolinist Shannon Collings, who bounces for the Tone Trampoline Club at Wellsprings Leisure Centre in
"The Somerset 500 Club is all about teamwork and giving opportunities to young athletes. By supporting people like them and backing projects promoting healthy living, the 2012 Olympics will have a wonderful legacy here in
Companies or individuals interested in donating to the Olympic 500 Club can contact County Hall on tel 0845 345 9166.
THE ONES TO WATCH IN 2008
• Hockey player Simon Mantell, born in Bridgwater and lives in Baltonsborough.
• Modern pentathlete Sam Weale, born in Yeovil and lives in
• Bath-based modern pentathlete Nick Woodridge. Sam and Nick are the first British pentathletes to compete in the Olympics since 1996.
The Paralympic Games runs from 6-17 September and a number of
• Table tennis player Will Bayley moved to Filton last year to train at the Bristol Table Tennis Academy at
• Swimmer Kate Grey, from Thornbury, who's studying at
• Visually-impaired judo athlete Darren Harris lives in
• Sprinter Ben Rushgrove, who lives in
• Women's wheelchair tennis player Lucy Shuker, who lives near
• Swimmer Anthony Stephens is originally from Highbridge and now lives in