Success of East Lancs Olympic stars inspires athletics club kids

Hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon

Hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon

First published in Sport Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant picture editor

A SPORTS club which has produced three young Olympic athletes says their success is getting more young people to join up.

Twenty-year-old pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale, Burnley hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon, 20, and modern pentathlon athlete Samantha Murray, 22, from Clitheroe are all Blackburn Harriers who have been selected to represent Great Britain at London 2012.Harriers secretary George Davies, 64, of Redearth Road, Darwen, has been involved with the club for 18 years.

He said the Olympians’ success had encouraged more budding athletes to sign up and progress through their sports.

He said: “We haven’t had any Olympic athletes come through the club before so it’s a first for us.

“Last week I had 13 applications for new young starters. Normally we would only get around 13 applications a month.

“People have been inspired by the Olympics and our athletes. Budding athletes see them and think ‘if they can do it, so can I’.

“These three young women have, through their own hard work and dedication, made it to this level and will be amongst the youngest in the squad.

“I think it’s magnificent. It’s what all your dreams are made of. It’s the reason we are involved in the sport at a volunteer level.”

Norman Mitchell, a coach at Hyndburn Athletics Club, Blackburn Harriers and Burnley Athletics Club said membership was on the rise.

“We are seeing an increase of 20-25 per cent in numbers at our athletics clubs.

“A lot of schools have been hosting Olympic-themed events and that has had a knock-on effect. We have legacy events planned for after the Olympics."

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