Three generations came together in London today to celebrate the 365 day countdown to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Olympic and Paralympic medallists Dame Kelly Holmes, Alison Williamson and Ade Adepitan, who are all part of Team B&Q, enjoyed some spectacular entertainment in the form of a traditional Chinese lion dance which brought an authentic flavour of Beijing to the Host borough of Newham. They then went on to spend time at a mentoring and training session with some of the most promising athletes from across the UK, and a specially selected group of local school children.
Dame Kelly Holmes/photo Jason Randall
Dame Kelly Holmes said:
“We’re so close to the next Olympic Games and all eyes will be looking out to see who will be our next medallists, particularly because of the importance of the Olympic Games in this country.
“I’ve been part of Team B&Q for nearly three years now and it’s exciting to see the talent that’s coming through across track and field as well as some of the other sports that B&Q supports such as fencing, taekwondo, shooting and diving.”
Today’s celebrations were organised by British Olympic Association (BOA) partner B&Q, which has been supporting athletes since the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. B&Q has, and will continue to, provide invaluable resources, logistical support and advice to the sporting body through its strong China presence as well as supporting athletes and their Olympic training venues.
Part of B&Q’s athlete support also includes backing a squad of talented sports stars called
Team B&Q. The team includes eight current medallists such as Chris Hoy, Sarah Ayton and Gail Emms, as well as 11 aspiring Olympians and an aspiring Paralympian, who all have their sights set on being selected for Beijing next year.
The 12 up-and-coming athletes work in B&Q stores, enjoying the benefits of full-time employment with part-time flexible hours, fitted around their demanding training and competition schedules. It is the largest employment programme of its kind for British athletes and has had a huge impact on the individuals involved. Most notably, Jon Willis was ranked number one Epee fencer when he first joined the programme. He has since gone on to win the biggest fencing tournament outside the Olympic Games - the 2007 Heidenhem Cup. This has been the best performance in men’s fencing for over thirty years and won him international acclaim.
To help improve Team B&Q’s sporting performances, the athletes are brought together on a regular basis to share their training techniques and learn from the experiences of some of the world’s top medallists. Today’s event saw three generations come together. Medallists from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games spent time with some of Team B&Q’s aspiring athletes which included Britain’s number one U21 hurdler Ryan Dinham, pole vaulter Mark Christie who has previously won Sunderland Sportsman of the year, Steven Scott from double-trap shooting who was previously World and European Champion and Shaun Sewell who competes in adaptive rowing, javelin throw and shot put.
As well as the mentoring, the Team B&Q members ran a training session for the third and youngest generation, involving a group of 40 school children from the London area. Community outreach is an important part of B&Q’s British Olympic partnership and the team make regular appearances in-store and at community events where they can share their inspirational experiences as an athlete with local people and in some cases, give them the opportunity to trial a new sport.
Jo Kenrick, Marketing and Customer Proposition Director, of B&Q said:
“Our partnership with the British Olympic Association is all about supporting the country’s rising talent in a unique and practical way through the employment programme, as well as bringing the ideals of the Olympic Games to our staff and customers.
“In the last few years, Team B&Q athletes have taken part in events that have reached over 20,000 B&Q staff, customers and children, giving them the opportunity to meet an Olympic athlete and be inspired to try something new or take their current sport or hobby to a higher level.”
People who are interested in following the progress of Team B&Q athletes can visit www.teambandq.com , where they will find details of their forthcoming events and can read regularly updated personal stories of each athlete’s progress towards the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
photos Janos Schmidt