Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Edwards Salute to a School for Stars

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Edwards Salute to a School for Stars

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Jonathan Edwards hopes the country's next generation can benefit from the North-East's passion for athletics as he once did when the English Schools Athletics Championships comes to Gateshead in July.

All eyes will be on potential medal contenders for the 2012 Olympics when Gateshead International Stadium hosts the championships on the weekend of July 7-8 ( and the former Gateshead Harrier and Durham University student believes it is just reward for their hard work and investment.

"The mindset that exists within this county is something I benefited from," said former Olympic gold medalist Edwards, a patron of the English Schools Athletics Association.

"There is a mindset to nurture talent and give it the best possible chance to succeed."

Edwards won the English Schools triple jump title in 1984 and believes the competition is an important part of the preparations for the London Olympics, which he is on the organising committee of.

"I wouldn't have been an athlete if it hadn't been for the English Schools Championships," said Edwards. "It's absolutely fundamental to the health of UK Athletics that this event flourishes.

"What we're trying to do in 2012 is put on the best possible games and part of that is to have the best possible athletes.

"When I won my gold medal at Sydney it was on the same night as Kathy Freeman won hers. I firmly believe those Olympics wouldn't have been what they were without Kathy Freeman."

Edwards was one of 34 former schools champions in the Great Britain team at the Sydney Olympics, with the vast majority of the rest having also competed in the event. All four members of Britain's triumphant 4x100m relay team were past competitors too.

Also present at the official launch of the Sainsbury-sponsored championships was Middlesbrough's Chris Tomlinson, who won the 1996 junior and 1997 intermediate triple jump titles before claiming long jump gold two years later. …

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