Olympian Hazel on her marks for London 2012

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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PARALYMPIC gold medallist Hazel Robson joined staff from a city call centre to fire the gun on the countdown to next year’s Olympic party.

Wearside athlete Hazel visited EDF Energy’s Doxford International centre to mark the 500-day countdown to the start of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To mark the day, 25 employees from the energy company’s office have begun training for BUPA’s Great North Run in September.

The group is aiming to raise £10,000 for ParalympicsGB, the charity responsible for funding and managing Britain’s teams at the Paralympic Games and Winter Games, as well as playing a key role in grassroots disability sport.

Centre boss Kevin Gatens is one of the group attempting the half-marathon.

He said: “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.

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

The team is already sharing training plans and running tips and will carry out group training sessions over the next few months.

Hazel, who has cerebral palsy, 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 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 ParalympicsGB,” she said.

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

EDF is also working with ParalympicsGB with the goal of turning the charity into a truly ‘Green Team’ ahead of 2012 by helping it to reduce its environmental impact and its athletes and coaches to save energy and money.