Lizzie and James learn from Olympic great Dame Kelly Holmes

Local youngsters attend educational day with double Olympic gold medalist

ATHLETICS: TWO of the district’s most talented young athletes got the chance to learn from one of the best after being selected to take part in the in an educational day with double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes.

Lizzie Bird from St Albans and James McMurray of Harpenden were selected to take part in a recent ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ Education Day at Loughborough College where 65 athletes, 44 coaches and 70 parents from all over the UK were educated about the preparation needed ahead of the summer athletics season.

Lizzie attended the event with her coach Simon Doyle and father Patrick and James was accompanied by his coach Deborah Steer and parents Ian and Kathy.

The athletes were invited to the prestigious event as a result of their achievements at recent Aviva English Schools Championships. Lizzie, who

competes for Herts Phoenix, won the bronze medal in the Intermediate 1500m in 2010 while James (St Albans AC) took the bronze medal in the Junior 1500m in 2009. Moving up to the Intermediate age group in 2010 James was a finalist in the 1500m and earlier this year won the English Schools Cross Country title in the age group. Both Lizzie and James are aiming to win medals again at English Schools this year.

Dame Kelly said: “The ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ Education Days are an excellent opportunity for me to share my knowledge and experiences with the young athletes like Lizzie and James and to help them on their journey through school, junior and onto senior athletics. It is great to see that ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ is going from strength to strength and is having a positive effect on all those who

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“Education about the sport is a hugely underestimated part of a young athlete’s development process, which is why I am so passionate about providing it through a structured and inspirational programme which also supports their coaches and parents.”

The athletes, coaches and parents took part in a selection of educational workshops on topics such as nutrition, media training and preparation for the season. The athletes also took part in a physically demanding aqua-jogging session led by Dame Kelly and a session on calf and ankle strengthening exercises with Kelly’s former physiotherapist Alison Rose. Coaches were able to attend a workshop on the Female Athlete Triad, a topic it is vitally important they understand when coaching female athletes, and there were specific workshops for parents.

Speaking about the event Lizzie said: “I feel really honoured to be selected for ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ because it has been an amazing day which had really inspired me to be the best I can in running. I have learnt a lot such as the good and bad aspects of

the media, what I should be eating before and after exercise and aqua-jogging.”

James also found the information provided about aqua-jogging useful saying: “It is a privilege to be selected for ‘Future Stars with Kelly’; it’s a great opportunity to meet a great person in Kelly and increase my knowledge. I enjoyed the whole day, especially the aqua-jogging which was very useful. I also learnt about the importance of lower leg exercises.”