Olympian helps Sunderland workers go on the run

Paralympic 100 & 200 metres champion Hazel Robson with EDF Energy Great North Runners.
Paralympic 100 & 200 metres champion Hazel Robson with EDF Energy Great North Runners.
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STAFF from a city call centre are under starter’s orders for the Great North Run with help from Paralympic gold medallist Hazel Robson.

Hazel joined a group of 25 employees from the EDF Energy’s office at Doxford International Business Park who have challenged themselves to take part in this year’s run.

The group, which include many inexperienced “non-runners”, is aiming to raise money for EDF Energy’s charity partner ParalympicsGB by running the half marathon in September.

The charity is responsible for funding and managing Britain’s teams at the Paralympic Games and Winter Games, as well as having a key role in grassroots disability sport.

EDF boss Kevin Gatens is one of the 25-strong group attempting the run.

“It’s been almost 20 years since I last did the Great North Run, but with the build up to London 2012 I felt it was an ideal opportunity to lead by example, get active again and show my support for ParalympicsGB,” he said.

“To have a gold medallist like Hazel join us has been brilliant and a real inspiration.”

The team members are already sharing training plans and running tips and will carry out group training sessions over the next few months including sessions in the office’s on-site gym.

Customer relations manager Beverley Harvey, 29, is another employee putting on her running shoes for ParalympicsGB.

“I’ve never run a half-marathon before, so it will be a huge challenge,” she said.

“I’m hoping to raise £1,000 for Paralympics-GB, so when I’ve finished the run I’ll not only have a great sense of personal achievement but will also have raised money for a worthwhile cause.”

Sprinter Hazel Robson, 31, already has five Paralympic medals to her name, including a gold medal in the T36 classification women’s 100m at her Paralympics debut in 2000. The Houghton athlete is hopeful that she will be able to add further medals to her collection at next year’s Paralympic Games.

“It’s great to see such support for Paralympics-GB,” she said.

“The money raised will help to ensure that we have the best and most prepared team to compete at the Paralympic Games next year and will hopefully also inspire more young people with a disability to take up sport.

“I wish the EDF Energy team all the best with their training.”