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Planning for more sporting glory

It's the UK’s most successful Olympics for a century, but right here in West Kent could be the beginnings of success in Olympics of the future.

As Games fever grips the nation while the medal tally steadily grows – including 17 gold medals at the last count – young and old are starting to get on their bikes or make a splash after being inspired by the British team.

The west of the county already has a good tradition at the Olympics with Dame Kelly Holmes hailing from Hildenborough. We also have Ashley Jackson of King’s Hill who competed as the youngest member of the 16-man Great Britain hockey squad.

Next month, Maidstone council will be giving its own boost to Olympic starlets of the future, with the launch of a fund to give grants to sporting hopefuls.

Although the scheme is yet to receive the cabinet’s rubber stamp, £50,000 has been allocated in the budget to support potential 2012 Olympians.

One such hopeful is 17-year-old Alex Torbica from Downswood, Maidstone, a young rower being tipped for great things in 2012.

Alex rows for Maidstone Invicta Rowing Club and was the number one junior 16 single sculler in the South East in 2006 and ranked in the top three GB rowers in this class.

The Maidstone Grammar School student, who is studying four A-levels, and aims to go to Cambridge and row there, competed in the Junior World Rowing Championships in Austria this year, and he will receive £5,000 from Fremlin Walk.

MIRC vice chairman Robin Chapman said: “Everything he touches, as far as rowing is concerned, he has had success.”

Maidstone Invicta Rowing Club are also expecting an influx of new applications at the end of this year’s Olympics.

With the success of 19-year-old Rebecca Adlington at swimming, Maidstone Leisure Centre has also reported an increase in people using the pools.

And with a plethora of medals in cycling, it’s not surprising that sales of bicycles have increased at Cycles UK in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone, this week.

A spokesman added: “We expect sales to soar in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.”

Larkfield-based cycling instructor Stewart Vanns added: “I think the Olympics is getting people turned on to cycling.”

Maidstone borough has one of the highest numbers of sportsmen and women competing at national level who are supported by Kent County Council’s Free Access for National Sportspeople (FANS) scheme.

From age 11 up to 70, those on the list are of national standard in the chosen field, and receive various free or discounted services.

The borough has three Olympic training camps – Pegasus gym, Maidstone leisure centre and Sutton Valence School.

Do you know anyone who is aiming to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games? If so, contact the newsroom at messengernews@thekmgroup.co.uk or by post to The Kent Messenger, 6&7 Middle Row, Maidstone, ME14 1TG.

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