Paralympian launches Hackney schools athletics programme

Hackney resident and paralympic swimmer Dervis Konuralp visited youngsters at Gainsborough School in Hackney Wick to launch Personal Bests 2009, a health-based youth sport initiative for 9-11-year-olds which will run in a third of Hackney’s primary schools this year.

Dervis, who competed at Beijing 2008 and is the borough s first 2012 Games ambassador, will visit all participating schools to lead a Q and A session and give out awards. All pupils taking part will receive an interactive workbook specially-produced for the programme, and will be offered three athletics training sessions where they record their own performance levels over time. They will also have a chance to improve their levels during PE and at after school clubs. The interactive workbook includes health messages, a personal lifestyle diary, information about the 2012 Games and a record of their own Personal Bests performances.

“Dervis is a great ambassador for 2012, he really inspires kids of all abilities and ages and gives them the confidence they need to be part of Personal Bests 2009,” said Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet member for Regeneration and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “Children of all abilities can join in, it doesn’t matter how far you can throw or how fast you can run; the question is can you go faster or throw further? Personal Bests is their to teach you how to do that, get fit and have fun.”

Six boys and six girls from each school - a total of 300 pupils - will be selected to represent their school at the borough Finals at Hackney Downs in July. The activities will include: javelin, long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus, speed bounce and relays.

The coaching programme is being run by the Council’s 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Unit and is funded through Team Hackney, the borough’s local strategic partnership.