Get Winspired; MEET THE COACHES WHO TAUGHT OUR GOLD MEDALLISTS

The Mirror (London, England), August 18, 2012 | Go to article overview

Get Winspired; MEET THE COACHES WHO TAUGHT OUR GOLD MEDALLISTS


Byline: LUCY THORNTON

THEY are our shining stars. Boys and girls, men and women, who helped Britain achieve a record 65 medals at the Olympics.

Yet behind their sparkling achievements are a team of unsung heroes who many years ago saw their potential and started them on the long journey to stardom.

Mark Cavendish, Luke Campbell, Jade Jones, Jason Kenny, the Brownlee brothers... they have all become household names. Here we turn back the clock and speak to the coaches who inspired them.

But that is not the end. It is just the beginning. Today it's on your marks, get set, go... as the search for our champions of the future gets underway.

The Join In initiative starts with the first ever National Sporting Weekend, backed by Prince William, Seb Coe and all our 2012 heroes. Families all over Britain are being asked to believe in the legacy and inspire a generation by heading down to where it starts for every great sportsman and woman - their local sports clubs.

More than 5,000 events are taking place as clubs everywhere open their doors to stars of the future. Olympic heroes will travel on the Join In Battle Bus over the weekend, making stops along the way. To find out what's going on where you live visit www.joininuk.org.

WHO INSPIRED..

MARK CAVENDISH

DOT TILBURY, 63, runs the Tuesday night cycling league on the Isle of Man, where Mark Cavendish and Peter Kennaugh learned to race. Every week up to 300 children of all ages - some even on stabilisers - turn up to pedal around the half-mile indoor circuit."Mark was a born winner - he started out on a BMX bike and wanted a mountain bike as he told his parents he would win then," says Dot.

"He got his mountain bike and never looked back. It is amazing and we are so lucky to have these heroes when we are just a small island with a population of 85,000. "We are so very proud.

It was a stunning feeling. I knew how much he deserved it and how hard he had worked."

Peter was part of the men's cycling pursuit team which grabbed victory in a world record time.

He joined Dot's club when he was seven. "He loved his cycling," she says. "He was quite small but loved to race and once he caught up with the rest it was game on.

"He comes from a cycling family - his grandfather, father and brother have all raced. It's in his genes. He rode like the wind from an early age."

In honour of the island's cycling heroes the Isle of Man post office have also released a set of stamps and painted post boxes gold.

These are tributes that delight Dot, who works for the stamp department of the post office.

WHO INSPIRED..

JASON KENNY

GRAHAM LEEKE, 58, helps coach youngsters at Eastlands Velo in the National Cycling Centre, Manchester. The volunteer is responsible for guiding the dreams of many of our Olympic greats, including Jason Kenny, 24, who won individual and team sprint gold, and Steven Burke, team pursuit winner.

"I was screaming at the TV when Jason won gold," says Graham, from Rochdale. "I get people asking for me why I coach and my viewpoint is if your kids could go and play football at Old Trafford they would do but they can't.

"They can come down to the velodrome and ride the same wood as Sir Chris Hoy and Vicky Pendleton.

"With Jason Kenny when he was younger he came to the track and started riding in the league.

"But on the second time he rode the older guys were telling him he would never make it... they made him cry at the side of the track. I tried to comfort him because what it really was they didn't like the fact a 12-yearold was kicking their backsides.

"I got a former professional cyclist to have a few words with Jason and he cheered him up. That night he went out prove a point by kicking all their backsides good and proper. Now look what he has done!" WHO INSPIRED. …

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