Posted: Tue, 03 Jun 2014 09:46
Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds OBE swapped the swimming pool for the gym hall when she visited a National Lottery funded project to get more young people into sport.
Four times gold medalist Ellie took part in a gymnastics and trampolining session at Loughborough Leisure Centre and shared her inspiring story with the group of youngsters on half term.
The session was part of Sportivate, a Sport England scheme funded with £56 million of National Lottery money, aimed at helping 11 to 25 year olds find a sport they love for life, delivered locally by Leicester-Shire & Rutland Sport (LRS).
Launched ahead of the London 2012 Games, Sportivate gives young people who aren't particularly sporty the chance to take part in six to eight weeks of free or subsidised coaching in activities such as wakeboarding, judo, running and golf.
Ellie said: "I'm passionate about inspiring other people to be involved in sport and I have really enjoyed meeting everyone today. I think Sportivate is a great way of helping young people try out different sports and find something they want to continue with.
"My own career has been helped by National Lottery funding and it's fantastic to see how the funding is creating opportunities for people at all levels to take part in sport. Everyone who plays the National Lottery should be proud of the difference they are making in their local communities."
Ellie is one of 1,300 elite athletes supported by National Lottery funding, which enables her to train full time and have access to some of the best coaching and facilities in the world. She moved to Loughborough last year to utilise the town's world class facilities.
After the gymnastics and trampolining session the swimmer shared her inspiring story of winning two Paralympic Gold medals in Beijing, aged just 13, before going on to claim another two Golds at London 2012.
Andy Reed OBE, Chair of Leicester-Shire and Rutland Sport, said: "Ellie is an amazing role model for young people and we are honoured to have her visit one of our Sportivate sessions.
"If it wasn't for National Lottery funding and Sport England we wouldn't be able to provide opportunities like this for young people in the area. We are really grateful to everyone who plays The National Lottery for their support. I hope Ellie's visit will inspire even more people to get involved."