Newcastle's Rising Stars aim to build on Olympic legacy
PUBLISHED: 13:08 18 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:13 05 April 2013
Newcastle's Rising Stars are following in the footsteps of Victoria Pendleton, Jonny Wilkinson and Gazza, as Roger Tames reports
As the euphoria of last summers Olympic Games fades, the subject of the legacy left behind has become an increasing concern, especially in light of continued cuts in public spending.
Its easier to focus on the bricks and mortar or more accurately concrete and steel of the Olympic facilities, especially with the future of the stadium itself still undecided. Significantly harder though, is to measure the inspirational effect of a sporting celebration that uplifted the countrys morale and self-esteem far more than any event in most peoples memory.
In fact the 2013 sporting debate has taken a negative turn with grass roots sport struggling for funds and facilities and young peoples lifestyles highlighted as inactive and unhealthy.
So its refreshing to be reminded that there is another generation of sporting talent ready to emerge, bursting with enthusiasm and training with ambition.
Evidence of local reservoirs of ability and potential were underlined when sporting greats, business sponsors and sports lovers gathered to salute the latest crop of Newcastles Rising Stars. The award is given to young sportsmen and women who have already made their mark at national, and often international level. The most successful of these teenagers are not just the best in the city, theyre among the best in the country.
Putting these gifted youngsters into an early spotlight is Sport Newcastle, a voluntary organisation thats been helping future winners on their important first steps up the competitive ladder for more than forty years.
Their track record at identifying potential is beyond question. Britains queen of cycling Victoria Pendleton (when she was at Northumbria University), Rugby World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson and even the inimitable Gazza all stepped up at the annual dinner and received their Rising Star award.
Were rather proud of the record of our Rising Stars, admits Secretary Malcolm Dix whos been at the heart of Sport Newcastle since 1977. But we dont just hand out awards, we make grants to young athletes who are often right at the very beginning of their sporting careers.
It may be just a couple of hundred pounds, but it can mean valuable help with equipment or travelling expenses for hard-pressed parents. It can also be a major boost to a boy or girl, showing them that their achievements have been noticed and were taking them seriously.
The best of our rising stars can go on to become our Sports Scholars and receive more significant funding. Each is linked to a local sponsor and we insist all our scholars detail exactly where the finance is needed as well as providing regular reports on their progress. We feel this builds a strong relationship and develops a sense of responsibility in their training.
With England rugby internationals Toby Flood and Geoff Parling past Rising Stars, this years award winners have some tough acts to follow, especially Zach Kibirige and Jonathan Burn, two Newcastle Falcons who have represented England at youth levels.
The spread of sports where Tyneside is blossoming is impressive too. Youngest Rising Star, 13-year-old Kate Waugh, has won a national title in triathlon, while 15-year-old Jennifer Noble is one of Britains top BMX riders. Georgia Darwent and Thomas Howley are international open water swimmers. Sisters Katy and Molly Seymour are in England Judos elite talent squad. Gymnast Jamie Carpenter, fencer William Germany and hockeys Bethany Gill are all internationals. With athlete Sam Hall and rower Nicole Lamb, a Junior World Championship silver medallist, these are names to remember.
The 2013 Rising Stars must have had their motivation sustained by London 2012. Yet at the same time, Britains Olympic successes past and future must also have been sustained by priceless early backing from voluntary bodies like Sport Newcastle.
For more details go online to sportnewcastle.org.uk