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Boost for Olympic hopes

PUBLISHED: 11:52 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 14:36 07 July 2010

Olympic hopeful Ashley Harrell.

Olympic hopeful Ashley Harrell.

Ashley Harrell, from Dereham, is among Norfolk's promising sportsmen and women took a step closer to creating their own Olympic memories when a scheme was launched last week to support the county's aspiring talent.

Ashley Harrell, from Dereham, is among Norfolk's promising sportsmen and women took a step closer to creating their own Olympic memories when a scheme was launched last week to support the county's aspiring talent.

The Norfolk Sports and Culture Foundation, run by Norfolk County Council, will give grants to rising stars in sport and culture to help them train, learn and improve as they prepare for London 2012.

Awards of up to £5,000 a year will be handed to those aged 14 to 25 during the four-year build-up to the games and one-off grants of £1,000 will also be up for grabs to anyone aged 14 and over who wants to realise their ambitions.

Harrell is an up-and-coming cross-country runner who trains with the City of Norwich Athletics Club and has represented England at international level.

The 19-year-old first got involved with athletics in 2004 and is hoping to compete in the 2012 Olympics. He said: “My PE teacher got me into it. He told me to go to a training club and over the past couple of years I have worked my way up.”

The Easton College student said the costs involved in his sport are huge and it is his family who have had to pick up the bills.

He said: “It's so hard to travel around when you haven't got the money and you can't get noticed by the scouts.

“You need new trainers every two to three months. From summer to winter you have different clothes. It's been hard for my family but they said they are paying for something I want to do.”

Great Britain coaches Pauline and Tim Ash, from Fakenham, work with the City of Norwich Athletics Club.

They said young athletes needed to put an enormous amount of time and money into their training.

Mr Ash said the funds would also help when they got injured.

“Training is hard and sadly you do get injured. If you have money then you can get physio straightaway rather than going though a GP,” he said.

The scheme aims to not only encourage the athletes who will compete in the games but also the performers who contribute to the Olympics as a cultural event.

Artists, dancers and musicians all stand to benefit from the foundation.

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