Manchester Olympian, Diane Modahl, hosted a fund-raising event for her sports foundation last night.
The Diane Modahl Sports Foundation was set up last year in partnership with Manchester City Council with the aim of providing support and inspiration for young athletes from under-privileged backgrounds in Greater Manchester.
The Olympic Inspiration event at the Castlefield Rooms was attended by over 100 delegates from Manchester businesses and featured a special guest appearance from gold medal-winning sprinter, Derek Redmond.
“We have an incredible depth of sporting talent, who – because of where they live – don’t have a real opportunity to maximise their talents,” said Diane.
“What is particularly special about tonight is that the foundation has a real chance to begin to touch the lives of our young people – not just in Manchester but across the UK – and to create the same excitement, the same inspiration that we as Olympians experienced.”
Diane, who grew up in Longsight, represented Great Britain at Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European Championships; winning 800m gold at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
She said that she would never have been able to achieve these feats without the support and generosity of her coach, Alan Robertshawe, who spotted her talent at a school event and offered her constant support throughout her development.
She now hopes that this foundation will provide a similar level of support to today’s aspiring athletes.
“All young people, regardless of where you live, regardless of how much money you have, can work with the foundation and we will provide you all the support to guide your talent,” she said.
Eamonn O’Rourke, head of sport and leisure services at Manchester City Council, said: “We are fully behind this project and there’s evidence already that this is starting to pay dividends.”
“Kids talk about how there’s nothing to do, but we have some of the world’s best sporting facilities here in Manchester.”
Diane is hoping the Olympics will act as real inspiration for the people of Manchester.
“We have received an inspire mark, so we’re definitely part of the Olympic family, and we can really take part in all the Olympic things that are going on.”
Two athletes supported by the project have been nominated to carry the Olympic Torch as it heads through Manchester next year, and the foundation will also be involved in the Olympic football events which are taking place in Manchester.
Former 4x400 relay world champion Redmond, who was inaugural speaker at the event, gave his full backing to the project, saying: “Any charity that can help inspire people gets my vote, and a 100% thumbs up from me.”
The money raised by the event goes to providing coaching, equipment and transport for young athletes. It costs £15,000 to provide coaching for a school each year; £5,000 per school for sports equipment and £265 for sports kit for each pupil.
Andy Lord, director of Re-Think Recruitment, who are sponsors of the event, said that ‘it just felt great’ to get involved with the project.
The foundation’s next event is a dinner bringing together legends of the past 40 years with Britain’s future athletes. The Centre of Champions Dinner will be held on 22 March.
For more information on the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation visit http://dmsf.co.uk/