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Deadline looming for local talent to get involved with Norfolk Sports Academy

Iona Lake, in training at the Sportspark, is an NSA member. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Iona Lake, in training at the Sportspark, is an NSA member. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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With the deadline looming for the 2018-19 cohort, DAVID FREEZER finds out more about the Norfolk Sports Academy and the athletes who have benefited from the project since its launch two years ago.

Sophie McKinna, on her way to second in the shot put at the British Championships earlier this year, is an NSA athlete. Picture: Martin Rickett/PASophie McKinna, on her way to second in the shot put at the British Championships earlier this year, is an NSA athlete. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

Fresh from the pride of seeing two of its athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games, the Norfolk Sports Academy is looking to help more athletes.

The deadline for the NSA’s new intake for 2018-19 is approaching and elite athletes over the age of 18 are being invited to apply.

Applicants need to be currently representing their country, be part of an international development squad or have attended a ‘potential talent’ training camp in the last 12 months to qualify for tier one, with regional representation also potentially enough to qualify.

The scheme was launched in 2016 with the aim of supporting talented athletes from the county so that they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

“We see it as an opportunity for aspiring athletes to progress and develop,” explains Sean Pasque, one of the NSA organisers, based at the Sportspark at the University of East Anglia.

“We have coaching, educational talks, guest speakers that come in and give insight into how they have gone on to be the level they are in their sport.

Norfolk swimming star Jessica-Jane Applegate celebrates her London 2012 Paralympic success with Prince Harry. Picture: SubmittedNorfolk swimming star Jessica-Jane Applegate celebrates her London 2012 Paralympic success with Prince Harry. Picture: Submitted

“In terms of inspiring athletes I think it’s great to have that opportunity to quiz people who have been there and done that, we’ve had (former Norwich City players) Paul McVeigh and Dean Ashton, and (Olympic hockey champion) Hannah Macleod. So we do try and give people the best chance to develop themselves and learn from others.”

The scheme was set up in 2016 following the success of the Young Norfolk Sports Academy, launched by Norwich School in conjunction with various community and business partners.

Alice Ladbrooke, another of the NSA’s organisers, adds: “They also get £500 a year from the scheme, so obviously the partners put in money towards that and also their money goes towards the workshops as well.

“They also get some kit to show they are part of the scheme but I think a lot of it is having each other as well, they’ve all learned quite a lot from what they currently do just from the group as well. They’ve all got free use of the Sportspark, so they could be meeting up in the gym for all we know, for whichever area they’re interested in.”

• For more information, and details of how to apply, go to NorfolkSportsAcademy.co.uk ahead of the Friday, June 8 deadline.

NSA ATHLETES 2017-18

Professional triathlete Kimberley Morrison is an NSA athlete.  Picture: Ian BurtProfessional triathlete Kimberley Morrison is an NSA athlete. Picture: Ian Burt

Iona Lake

City of Norwich Athletic Club star rose to prominence last year when winning the women’s 3,000m steeplechase at the British Championships in Birmingham. The 25-year-old, from Hainford, qualified for the Commonwealth Games and finished eighth in the steeplechase on Australia’s Gold Coast last month.

Sophie McKinna

Great Yarmouth & District AC’s throwing supremo became the first British female to win a global medal in shot put when winning silver at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Games and has competed at the top level ever since. The 23-year-old bounced back from disappointment of missing out on the 2016 Rio Olympics with a PB throw to finish second at the British Championships in February and then extended her PB to 17.76m for fifth place at the Commonwealth Games in April.

Jessica-Jane Applegate

Needs little introduction in these parts after rising to prominence with a gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics as a teenager. The UEA City of Norwich Swimming Club poster girl, from Bergh Castle, near Great Yarmouth, has an autism spectrum disorder and competes in the S14 classification for swimmers with intellectual disabilities. The 21-year-old won two silvers and a bronze at the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil despite injury issues and has also won two world golds.

Kimberley Morrison

An inspiring athlete who has recovered from a difficult start to life, being born with two holes in her heart, requiring complex surgery as a three-year-old at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The 30-year-old, from Bale, near Fakenham, competed in her first triathlon in 2012 and turned professional in 2015, going on to win Ironman 70.3 events in Buenos Aires and Texas, also finishing 18th in the Ironman70.3 World Championship last year.

Other athletes: Katie Clark (athletics, 500m hurdles), Iain Dawson (para-triathlon, para-cycling), Emily Woods (artistic roller-skating), Matthew Johnson (kayak), Julie Henson (fencing), Callum Brown (athletics, hammer), Gemma Vickery (athletics, hammer)

NSA partners: Pilch, Barnham Broom Hotel, Royal Air Force, City College Norwich, Sportspark, Norwich School, Norfolk Community Foundation, Car Shop, Mills & Reeve, BMA Estates

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