Sunderland to honour its golden boys and girls

College principal and chief executive Ellen Thinnesen and staff at the new college
College principal and chief executive Ellen Thinnesen and staff at the new college
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Sunderland will honour its Olympic and Paralympic heroes and heroines at a special ceremony next week.

Mayor of Sunderland Coun Alan Emerson will present specially commissioned medals to the city's sporting representatives at a civic reception held in their honour on Monday.

Aly Dixon

Aly Dixon

Invitations have been sent out to all the region's champions, with all those not able to attend being sent their commemorative medals at home.

Long distance runner Alyson Dixon, yachtsman John Robertson, swimmers Josef Craig and Matt Wylie, and boxers Josh Kelly and Pat McCormack will join trampoline gymnast Kat Driscoll to represent their Olympic and Paralympic team mates from Rio 2016 at the ceremony.

Coun Emerson, said: "Our athletes’ enjoyed unprecedented success at Rio 2016 and it is only right we recognise their massive contribution to local, national and international sport.

"They all represented our city, our region and our country with such distinction, and this is our way of thanking them and commemorating their achievements.

Josef Craig

Josef Craig

"All those living and training here in Sunderland are an inspiration to the future generations of sportsmen and women in our communities, and I am honoured to present them with these specially commissioned civic medals in recognition of their contribution to the life of our city.

"I am sure I speak for many city residents when I say that you all have made Sunderland and indeed the North East very proud. I would like to wish you continued success in your future career and I am sure there will be more honours to follow."

*Monday will be particularly busy for Paralympic golden boy Matt Wylie.

Matt, who won gold in the “splash and dash” S9 50 metres freestyle event in the Rio pool, will cut the golden ribbon to officially open Sunderland College's new £30million City Campus at noon.

Matt Wylie

Matt Wylie

Matt, who used to attend the college, was the overwhelming favourite among students to perform the opening duties at the new centre.

"Sunderland College played such an important role in my own personal development, so it is fantastic to be offered the chance to cut the ribbon on this fantastic new facility," said Matt.

"My life has changed dramatically over the last 12 months, but it only happened as a result of a huge amount of hard work and commitment. City Campus provides students with a unique environment to fulfil their potential, but ultimately it will come down to their own desire and ambition to make the most of the opportunity this facility offers."

Mayor of Sunderland Coun Alan Emerson will join Matt at the opening: "I am delighted to have been invited to join Matt for this landmark event, with the new City Campus a fantastic asset to our city centre," he said.

"Matt is a fantastic example for us all, of what our young people can achieve if we provide them with the kind of help, support and educational and sports facilities that they need to develop their full potential."

College principal and chief executive Ellen Thinnesen said: "Matt’s achievements united a city and the whole of Sunderland celebrated his incredible victory at the summer’s Paralympics.

"He was the unanimous choice of both the staff and student body at Sunderland College and we were delighted he agreed to perform the ribbon cutting alongside the Mayor of Sunderland.

"The official opening is a proud moment in the college’s history. It is among the most impressive college buildings I have set foot in during my career in education – and I have been to a lot of colleges."