Stoke on Trent’s celebration of its status as European City of Sport 2016 gathers pace each week. The 23rd February saw the launch of a Talented Athlete Scheme, to provide support to up-and-coming sporting stars across the City. The launch event itself, at Northwood Stadium, saw a collection of wonderful sporting talent come together to celebrate the announcement.
I went along to make some new contacts in some new sports and – as has already happened so many times this year – was blown away by the local stars already making an impact internationally. And equally heartened by the readiness of the same individuals to contribute to the Sporting Stories project we are developing with the ECoS2016 team.
Two more contributions in the pipeline I hope – dressage, from a 14-year old star who has already won international honours; and paracanoe, from a truly inspirational athlete working towards the Rio Paralympics. So many local stars, so many stories…
Roll forward to the 29th February and it’s the launch of our own Sporting Stories initiative. Early in the afternoon I cut my teeth on a local radio interview and then dash across to Hanley’s City Central Library for the press launch. I am humbled by the support we have from the European City of Sport team and from local sporting heroes.
The photo here shows just how broad that support is from L to R:
Jenny Booth (Atlanta Paralympics swimming gold medallist); Ness Hooper (Director, Cox Bank Publishing); Angela Smith (former world squash champion, Chair of European City of Sport 2016); Ant Bunn (editor DUCK magazine); Emma Jackson (TeamGB 800m runner); Bob and Jean Gough (Jean is Sir Stanley Matthews daughter, Bob and Jean are directors of the Sir Stanley Matthews Coaching Foundation); Peter Hooper (MD, Cox Bank Publishing); Terry Follows (cabinet member, Stoke on Trent City Council); Michelle Adams (Head of Economic Development, Culture & Sport, Stoke on Trent City Council); Tom Brennan (former Lord Mayor); Deb McAndrew (playwright and actor); and Frank Murphy (co-founder of Stoke FIT running club).
The launch also marked the unveiling of the dedicated Sporting Stories project, where stories are already coming in. By the end of the year we hope to have had something contributed from every sport across the city, and enough material to fill a celebratory book for the European City of Sport. With running, squash, football, kayaking, discus, shot put, dressage, keep-fit and kung fu in the pipeline already, we’re definitely on the way!