Bid to inspire female athletes

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A NEW campaign to inspire more women and girls to get involved in sport is being spearheaded by top female athletes past and present.

The Inspire Project is being jointly run by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Sport and Recreation Service and Cultural Services Department and is linked to the staging of the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

The campaign involves highlighting the achievements of a host of the town’s sporting stars.

Photographs by Hartlepool photographer Lucinda Grange of sportswomen are being distributed via social media networks, and there are also plans to put up posters in a variety of locations around the town.

Further nominations of both individuals and teams excelling in their chosen sports will also be welcomed.

The campaign will culminate in a high-profile exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery from July 7 to September 1 next year which will coincide with the Olympic Games.

As well as featuring the posters, the exhibition will also include items of memorabilia, including a Team GB blazer from the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

There will also be an opportunity to watch digital stories – short two-minute films of what inspires people to participate and what motivates them to commit time and effort to the sport they love.

Maxine Crutwell, recreation development officer with the council, said: “We want the local legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games in London to be an increase in the number of females taking part in sport.”

“We have some really talented female athletes in Hartlepool who have achieved success in their chosen sports through sheer hard work and dedication, and through the Inspire Project we aim to promote them as positive role models.

“Our message would be that taking part in sport can be fun, it can help to improve your fitness and it can be a great social experience.”

The athletes featured in the campaign include footballer Lindsay Johnson, who plays for Everton and England, international fencer Alex Craig, Team GB boxer Amanda Coulson, Judith Turland, a member of the Team GB swimming squad at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Hartlepool Heat basketball team who are National League players and international dressage rider Anne Marie Perry.

Also included will be international swimmer and Team GB London 2012 hopeful Jemma Lowe, canoeist Bethan Kelly, Margaret Auton who swam for Great Britain at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Amy Coulson who came third in the WADO World Karate Championships, biathlete Emma Cassell, netball players Danielle Smith and Olivia Mason, athlete Ashleigh Wood, Amy Campbell, a Team GB ice hockey member and boxer Savannah Marshall, who is another London 2012 hopeful.

David Worthington, the council’s cultural services manager, said: “It is a very exciting project which, hopefully, will succeed in promoting healthier lifestyles for Hartlepool women and their families.”