Olympic Legacy prevails at Grantham schools table tennis academy

GAPS academy members with Olympic torchbearers and coaches John Mapletoft (back, left), Russell Winfield (right) and Gareth Herbert (bottom left).
GAPS academy members with Olympic torchbearers and coaches John Mapletoft (back, left), Russell Winfield (right) and Gareth Herbert (bottom left).
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A group of sporting youngsters marked the start of their support for the UK Olympic Legacy at a GAPS training session at Cliffedale School on Friday.

The Grantham Academy for Primary and Secondary Schools (GAPS) launch night event gave the children the opportunity to hold a 2012 Olympics torch and have their photo taken with a piece of local history. Academy coaches John Mapletoft, GAPS chairman, and ETTA UK Level 2 coach Russell Winfield were both chosen as bearers for the Olympic Torch Relay last year.

GAPS is working closely with local schools and hopes to inspire more children to take up table tennis as their chosen sport and learn what it is like to play competitively. It is run with the support of volunteer coaches and helpers, and relies on the generous support of local partners to ensure that funding is available to offer this important stepping stone between the grassroots introduction to the sport and competing at both local and national levels.

The role of the academy is strengthened by the involvement of its head coach Gareth Herbert who is a Commonwealth Games double gold medallist, former UK number one player and Level 3 table tennis coach with the England squad.

GAPS works closely with local premier table tennis club Cliffedale Chandlers to coach players to a higher level and allow them to progress. To do this, the children are regularly involved in inter-school competitions and beginners’ tournaments to get them used to the competitive environment.

Vincent Britten, CEO of Inspire+, said: “It’s great to see GAPS keeping the Olympic Legacy alive and ensuring that the next generation is getting involved in sports.”

l If you would like to know more about the training sessions run by GAPS or how to get involved though volunteering or sponsorship, contact John Mapletoft on 01476 565521.