Sunderland bidding to create Olympic legacy

Coun James Blackburn and Len Ashurst Chair of the Sunderland Sports Fund.

Coun James Blackburn and Len Ashurst Chair of the Sunderland Sports Fund.

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AN Olympic legacy has been unveiled on Wearside as the countdown to the opening ceremony of London 2012 reaches 500 days.

Active Sunderland has announced that everyone in the city will have the chance to take part in a sport they enjoy.

Twelve sports for 2012 have been highlighted, including swimming, football, athletics and gymnastics and it is hoped that people of all ages and abilities in Sunderland will get involved at the level that suits them, from grassroots to elite.

Active Sunderland – a partnership between Sunderland City Council, SAFC Foundation, Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, School Sports Partnership and University of Sunderland – also aims to boost the number of qualified coaches and sports volunteers and continue to support future athletes.

To make sure Sunderland feels part of the 2012 Games, the partnership has promised a host of cultural and sporting festivals, projects and activities designed to inspire young people to become the city’s next Olympic heroes, including the Sunderland City 10k run, Sunderland Big Bike Ride, Tyne and Wear School Games and specially-themed Active Sunderland Weeks.

The first legacy will see Sunderland City Council and the Sunderland Sports Fund launch an Elite Sports Fund to support the city’s potential Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Successful applicants will be awarded up to £4,000 to support their training and competition needs in the run-up to the Olympics.

Len Ashurst, chairman of the Sunderland Sports Fund, said: “We’ve been supporting young and disabled talented athletes for 11 years with our small grants. However, with the Olympics being in this country we wanted to celebrate it with something special.

“Hopefully the Elite Sports Fund can give those successful athletes that additional support they need to qualify for London and potentially win a medal.”

Coun James Blackburn, portfolio holder for attractive and inclusive city, said: “The council has worked closely with the Sunderland Sport Fund for many years. This new fund is a fantastic opportunity for the city’s world class athletes to gain essential financial support.”