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Norfolk Olympians and Paralympians visiting Carrow Park to meet the Community Sports Foundation staff and players from the girls' centre of excellence. From left, Colin Oates, Anna Bentley, Anthony Ogogo, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Mel Clarke.Photo: Steve Adams
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Our region’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes sprinkled a little of their inspirational stardust at Carrow Road on Saturday evening.
Bronze medal-winning boxer Anthony Ogogo, Paralympic champion Jessica-Jane Applegate, archery silver medallist Mel Clarke, fencer Anna Bentley, judo player Colin Oates and wheelchair basketball player Amy Conroy were presented to the Carrow Road crowd at half time on Saturday.
And it appeared their winning mentality rubbed off on the players as the Canaries kept Arsenal at bay in the second half for their first league win of the season.
Before the match, the London 2012 group were at Carrow Park to meet players from Norwich City’s girls’ centre of excellence, in a visit organised by the club’s Community Sports Foundation. The Olympians and Paralympians received a guard of honour before being treated to an exhibition of the girls’ talents.
The opportunity was too much to resist for bronze medal-winner Anthony Ogogo, above, who displayed some silky skills to of his own to score a backheel, before promptly substituting himself.
He said: “The girls have definitely got some talent, and they were giving me a run for my money.
“This is what sport is all about: the grass roots. Wherever I go I try to convey the message that this is where it starts.
“I’m from a small town, Lowestoft, which is hardly a hotbed of boxing, so if I was able to do it then anyone can.”
The visit was a chance for Olympians and Paralympians to bask once more in the enthusiasm and love for sport that swept the country during the summer.
“It’s been brilliant,” he said. “Everyone has been so supportive, but especially in East Anglia – I couldn’t think of a better place to hail from.”
Former Norwich High School pupil Anna Bentley, who reached the quarter-finals of the team foil event, said she had seen first-hand the effect of the games at her former fencing club that morning.
“They are all so keen to get into competition now, not just competing in the club. It’s fantastic to see how enthusiastic they are,” she said.
A lifelong Norwich fan, who was a regular at Carrow Road “during the glory years” of the mid-1990s, she said the chance to walk on the Carrow Road turf was the biggest perk of her Olympic efforts.
“We’ve all had so many opportunities since the games, but this has got to be the best,” she said.
Daniel Wynne, of the Community Sports Foundation said the Olympics and Paralympics had sparked a surge in interest in the CSF’s activities, in particular from schools.
“London 2012 inspired our community to get involved, and they have really got hold of the excitement of the games.
“Inviting the athletes was our chance to say thank you for the summer of sport they gave us and to show them that the legacy they aimed to leave is already in effect.”