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Bristol athletes given opportunity of a lifetime

Press release issued: 10 December 2008

Two young Bristol athletes have been selected to train at a world famous training centre developed by one of the world’s Olympic greats as part of Springboard Plus, a new athlete development initiative.

Funded by the John Rutley Sport Fund, Springboard Plus aims to celebrate and support the emerging talent of young Bristol athletes, providing them with the chance to train at the home of two-time Olympic gold medalist and Chairman of the Kenyan Olympic Committee (KOC), Kip Keino.

Hannah Alderson (16) and Harry Webb (19) will join University of Bristol athletes Stephen Mitchell and Imogen Ainsworth on a week-long training programme at the Kip Keino high-performance training centre in Eldoret, Kenya.

Hannah is a member of Yate Athletics Club and trains with coach Alan Thomas. She has been running for 4 years and her biggest achievement to date was finishing 3rd in the 3000 meters at the 2008 Bristol and Bath UK School Games. Her goal is to wear a GB vest and compete in the Olympics.

Hannah said: “To make the most of this opportunity it’s important that I prepare well by training in advance. I hope to see a massive improvement after the trip having had the experience of training with top class athletes and coaches.”

Harry is a member of Bristol and West Athletic Club and trains with coach Tom Watson. Currently in his first year at Brunel University studying Sport Science Harry hopes to become a teacher. He started running at the young age of 8 and his biggest achievement to date was at the 2006 AAA 800 metres indoors where he won a silver medal and ran the ninth fastest ever time for his age group. He has also finished 4th in the England Schools in 2006 and 5th in the English Schools 1,500 metres in 2008.

Harry was a Sport Youth Trust Ambassador and is keen to use the Kenya trip as an opportunity to promote athletics and engage young people in the sport.

The University of Bristol has produced a number of endurance athletes who have won medals at both national and student events. Two such talented athletes, Stephen Mitchell and Imogen Ainsworth were selected to accompany Hannah and Harry to Kenya to experience training at altitude with world class athletes. They will mentor the younger athletes leading up to and after the trip.

Stephen said, "I am delighted to be joining the Springboard Plus athletes. It is a fantastic opportunity to both improve my running and to experience a culture very different to my own. It will be a new, different experience and I can't wait."

Keith Brackstone, University of Bristol athletics coach said, “Springboard Plus offers these athletes a fantastic opportunity to see how endurance athletes from one of the acknowledged hot beds of distance running prepare for competition. It will also enable them to access top University athletes to find out how they train and how they balance life on a talented athlete programme with a demanding degree course at one of the countries top Universities."

Karen Harvey, Community Sport Development Manager, said: ”Hannah, Harry, Imogen and Stephen illustrate the degree to which Olympic and Paralympic Games can inspire and motivate. Their commitment to athletics and their Olympic goals is inspirational and I’m confident they will be excellent ambassadors for the Springboard programme and all that it represents.”

The Bristol-Kenya 2012 agreement is a multi-faceted partnership that will see Bristol hosting the Kenyan Olympic Team for pre-Games training for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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