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Olympian Kat Copeland opens new school facilities
OLYMPIC golden girl Kat Copeland is happy to be an inspiration to the region’s girls, she said yesterday (Wednesday, October 24).
The gold medal winner, who lives in Stokesley, spoke before officially opening Hartburn Primary School’s new Multi User Games Area (MUGA).
She said: “Although I don’t think of myself as a role model, I think it is good for girls to see someone normal from their area do well and if I can inspire them, it is great.”
The rowing champion also praised the head of the Stockton school, Tom Gittins, for his work in developing the £130,000 MUGA, which was funded by the school and parents.
She said: “The head’s enthusiasm and what he has done here is amazing. This is what the Olympic legacy is all about. Some of these children could be champions in the future and we need to have these kinds of facilities when they are young.”
To mark the opening of the MUGA, Ms Copeland watched pupils race and awarded medals to all participants.
Stockton’s Mayor, Councillor Lynne Apedaile and Olympic torch bearers Jo Johnson and Clem Laidler were also there for the special occasion.
Seven-year-old student Annabel Stubbs said: “Today has been really exciting. I love running and would like to be an Olympic runner one day. Kat makes me think I can do it.”
The MUGA, which incorporates a sprint track, mini tennis courts and hockey and football pitches, is located in the school’s play area and is accessible in all weathers.
Headteacher Mr Gittins, who worked for more than two years to have the facilities built on school ground, said: “It has been my ambition for years to do this. It improves the life chances of our children as well as getting them to enjoy sports.
"Kat coming is the icing on the cake – if she does not inspire the children to dream and work hard, I don’t know what would.”