Olympic star gets sports festival underway
- Credit: SPORTSAID
Olympic cyclist Jess Varnish has fired the starter’s gun on this year’s Bury St Edmunds Festival of Sport.
The former European Champion and World record holder was the star guest at The Athenaeum for a sporting lunch aimed at raising money to help aspiring sportsmen and women from Suffolk.
Profits from the event will go to SportsAid - a charity that helps promising young British athletes with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities during the critical early stages of their careers.
Jess, who was one of GB's leading track cyclists between 2012 and 2017 and famously partnered Victoria Pendleton in the Team Sprint, said "I'm delighted to be able to help such a worthwhile cause.
"It's really expensive to train and compete at national and international level so any support that athletes receive is always welcome.
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"SportsAid does a great job in getting support to the right athletes at the right time."
The lunch was made possible thanks to sponsorship from Greene and Greene solicitors, Lovewell Blake Chartered Accountants and Financial Planners, and Abbeycroft Leisure.
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Since it was launched in 2007, SportsAid has raised and distributed more than £200,000 to support young athletes from Suffolk, including some that have gone on to win Olympic, Paralympic, World, European and Commonwealth medals.
Two talented local athletes to have both received support from SportsAid were in attendance at the event.
Great Britain race walking international Callum Wilkinson, fresh from the World Athletics Championships in Doha, and squash prodigy Emma Bartley.
Callum, from Moulton, near Newmarket, said: "To receive support from SportsAid was a real boost. The funding was, of course, fantastic but to be recognised as having the talent to go on and achieve on the biggest stage was incredibly motivating."
Bury was recently named Suffolk's Most Active Town at the Suffolk Community Awards.
The Bury Festival of Sport is a ten day annual event that sees sports fitness groups, classes and social exercise groups in a range of activities ranging from parkruns to football matches.
It finishes with the town's marathon and half-marathon on October 27.
For more details go to the Festival of Sport website.