'Ennis effect' will inspire future stars of track and field
HEROICS from Team GB's Olympic stars will inspire youngsters on to future medal glory.
That's the verdict from aspiring athletes in Cheltenham who have been glued to their screens cheering on the likes of victorious heptathlete Jessica Ennis and 10,000m runner Mo Farah in their quest for gold.
Promising middle-distance runner Jane Thomas, who trains with Cheltenham Harriers, said their exploits would have a far-reaching impact.
The 21-year-old, a student from Cirencester, said: "The Olympics have been brilliant and everyone I know has been talking about them.
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"One of the great things to come out of it will be that younger viewers will have some great role models.
"I grew up very keen on tennis so used to be look up to the Williams sisters, then when I got more into running it was Paula Radcliffe.
"Now it will be people like Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah who people will be looking to for inspiration."
She added it wasn't only children who would be touched by what has been dubbed 'the Ennis effect'. "So many of my friends have been watching the Olympics and texting me about how excited they are about it. Hopefully some of the ones who have given up sport will be encouraged to get into it again. I want to carry on running for the rest of my life. Whether it's the next Olympics in Rio or a regional meet in the Midlands, I don't care. I just really enjoy it and get loads out of it."
Leaders at Cheltenham Harriers said they have been inundated with requests to join from people of all ages.
Club spokesman Andy Prophett said: "We have certainly seen the Olympics effect over the last couple of weeks and have lots of inquiries."
The surge of interest comes at a good time for the club, which is set to have its running track, at the Prince of Wales Stadium in Tommy Taylor's Lane, relaid next week.
Borough council chiefs have also put on special sports activity sessions over the school summer holiday and said they have been amazed at the surge in people wanting to sign up.
Seth Perry, sports development officer at the authority, led some of the sessions in unihoc – a form of indoor hockey – this week. He said: "You can't underestimate the impact the Olympics will have on athletics and sports in this country. Hopefully the growth will continue for a long time and we'll still be seeing the effect in years to come."
OLYMPIC NEWS P6, 31-32; OPINION, P8