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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

LONDON 2012 - 100 DAYS TO GO TO LONDON 2012 - The New Forest celebrates its local heroes

With 100 days to go to the London 2012 opening ceremony, New Forest residents and visitors are being encouraged to support local Olympic hopefuls.

The New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest District Council are launching an exhibition of photographs of New Forest elite and up-and-coming talented athletes on Wednesday 18 April. The striking series of images captures the athletes practising their sport in the iconic New Forest landscape.

The exhibition, which will tour venues around the New Forest between now and the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in September, will showcase the National Park landscape, encourage people to back their local heroes and inspire people of all ages to get involved in sport.

With stories of their road to London 2012 in an accompanying booklet, the athletes have spoken about how they started out in their sport and their links to the New Forest.

Among those featured are triple Olympic gold medallist sailor Ben Ainslie from Lymington; GB wheelchair rugby team member Aaron Phipps from Totton; Commonwealth silver medallist gymnast Laura Edwards from Brockenhurst; GB Volleyball player Nichola Osborne from New Milton and GB handball team member Dan McMillan from Sway. The photos by Robert Nemeti were taken in iconic New Forest settings including Palace House at Beaulieu, Buckler’s Hard, Hatchet Pond and the Rhinefield Aboretum.

Laura Edwards at Ornamental Drive
Phoebe Dowson at Buckler's Hard
Leader of New Forest District Council, Councillor Barry Rickman, said: ‘New Forest District Council is proud of its talented athletes and committed to supporting sport at many different levels from the grass roots to the elite. We hope to raise the profile of some of our top class athletes and get the whole of their local community behind them. For local residents to watch these athletes at the biggest sporting event on earth and realise that you can come from the New Forest, start at one of our many great clubs and make it all the way to the top should be an inspiration to get involved.

‘This exhibition also profiles some of our rising stars who are aspiring to reach the heights of those Olympic athletes. The legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be our world class athletes inspiring others from their local communities to get involved, to take up activity and realising that if you have the talent and determination you too could achieve your dreams.’

Alison Barnes, New Forest National Park Chief Executive, said: ‘With London 2012 and the torch relay passing through the New Forest, this summer gives us a golden opportunity to celebrate our historic landscape.

‘The New Forest was created for sport by William the Conqueror over 900 years ago as his hunting ground and has an impressive sporting history. So it is fitting that the area is home to so many elite athletes hoping to compete on the world sporting stage at the London 2012 Olympics.

‘Part of the National Park’s remit is to increase people’s understanding and enjoyment of the National Park while conserving the landscape for future generations. The Olympic year offers a unique opportunity to shine the spotlight on what is special about the Forest.

‘We hope by visiting this exhibition, people will be inspired to explore this unique landscape while taking up healthy activities – whether it is out enjoying a peaceful walk in the Forest or more formal sporting pursuits to reaching the pinnacle of Olympic competition.’

As well as attending the exhibition, people can post messages of support for the New Forest athletes by searching for New Forest 2012 on Facebook or on Twitter follow @newforestnpa

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