Council chief inspires sports hopefuls

A district council leader has told young sports stars about how his grandfather overcame obstacles to compete in the 1932 Olympic games in a bid to encourage them to achieve success.

A district council leader has told young sports stars about how his grandfather overcame obstacles to compete in the 1932 Olympic games in a bid to encourage them to achieve success.

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller spoke to 56 award-winners aged between nine and 18 at the annual South Norfolk Community Sport Achiever Awards held at the De Vere Dunston Hall Hotel on Tuesday evening.

Among those being presented with funding awards by British javelin record holder Goldie Sayers were three Olympic hopefuls, Tom Barber, 16, Bethany Coggins, 14, and Laura McDonald, 13.

Mr Fuller told the youngsters how his grandfather, Stanley Fuller, had no support for his participation in the 1932 Olympics. He had to ask for time off work to go and only just got it. The 100m and 200m runner travelled by ship to New York and then by train to Los Angeles during an epic trip across America which was in the grip of the Great Depression.


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At the ceremony Mr Fuller also announced a new annual £15,000 Olympic Sports Ambassador Award scheme, targeted specifically at South Norfolk Olympic hopefuls. Although exact details have yet to be ironed out, the aim of the award is to help pay for hopefuls significant transport and related costs of getting to first class training facilities.

Among those getting awards was UEA City of Norwich swimmer, Bethany Coggins, from Hethersett. Bethany, 14, is hoping to compete in the London 2012 Olympics and is set to take part in trials in the coming weeks which, if successful, will see her go through the European Youth Olympics. “She works incredibly hard so it is really nice for her to have this recognition,” her mother Karen said.

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Wymondham High School pupil, Laura McDonald, 13, is another future Olympic hopeful who was number one in the UK in her age group for javelin last year. The multi-talented youngster was also second in the UK in her age group for hurdles, shotput and pentathlon.

Her father Ian McDonald said he was immensely proud of his daughter, who is going to Italy next week for two weeks warm winter training with the combined event squad.

Tom Barber, 16, who lives near Harleston, has his sights set on competing in archery at the Beijing Olympics this summer. The Bungay High School student is going to Shropshire in a fortnight for the first selection shoot for the games. Tom, who was ranked number one in Europe last year, said he was feeling “hopeful” about his chances of being selected.

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