Sports Award 1
ELLIE SCOOPS GONG – IN SPITE OF BRUM
Walsall schoolgirl Eleanor Simmonds scooped the BBC Midlands Sports Personality of the Year Award last night – prompting blushes all round for Birmingham Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Ray Hassall.
13-year old Ellie – a double gold medal winner at the Beijing Paralympics - is a member of Sutton Coldfield’s Boldmere Swimming Club, but has to travel to Swansea for specialist training as none is available in in Brum.
She and her family are forced to live in Wales during the week before returning to the West Midlands at weekends.
Her club secretary Keith Munday has also been campaigning for Birmingham Council to use a government windfall to subsidise access to organised lessons for inner city youngsters who he says are priced out of club membership by excessive pool hire fees.
This would merely fulfil the promise when the “Kids Swim For Free” scheme was introduced ie that all youngsters could enjoy swimming lessons for nowt (birminghammail.net/).
It might also help to identify other youngsters who, like Ellie, have hidden talents.
Opposition politicians have noted that Birmingham seems willing to spend more money on hosting the US Track and Field team ahead of the 2012 Olympics than it does on spotting its own medal-winning potential (see link here).
Needless to say, Hassall didn’t raise these embarrassing issues as he stepped on stage at the National Motorcycle Museum to hand over a gong – he was only too happy to bask in the reflected glory of an athlete Birmingham has failed.
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