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Park will inspire tomorrow's stars'

PUBLISHED: 14:54 27 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:26 23 August 2010

INSPIRATIONAL: Jamie Staff.

INSPIRATIONAL: Jamie Staff.

AN OLYMPIC champion handed out awards to future sports stars as he unveiled plans for a cycling park three times the size of the London 2012 venue. Jamie Staff was at the Civic Centre in Gravesend at the weekend to launch Kent County Council s Cyclopa

AN OLYMPIC champion handed out awards to future sports stars as he unveiled plans for a cycling park three times the size of the London 2012 venue.

Jamie Staff was at the Civic Centre in Gravesend at the weekend to launch Kent County Council's Cyclopark project and present medals to youngsters in the British Cycling South East Region Go Ride Interclub competition.

Formerly known as the A2 Activity Park, the cycling park will be three times the size of the Olympic velopark in Hackney, with a 2.8 kilometre road race track and an international standard BMX track.

Two brothers from Wilmington and members of Team Darenth were among those who received awards, along with a ten-year-old girl from Blackheath.

Mr Staff said: "A chance to meet such enthusiastic youngsters and potential future champions was a great experience, and I hope that my role as ambassador for the park will help inspire the next generation of Olympians."

Nathan Martin, nine, came third in the under-10s, while brother Toby, 10, came first in the under-12s.

Toby, a pupil at Joydens Junior School, has been cycling since he was five. He said: "It was really cool meeting Jamie, because he is a proper cyclist.

"I like cycling and football and when I get older I would like to be a cyclist."

His proud mum Lillian, a catering tutor at North West Kent College in Gravesend, encouraged her children to cycle at an early age.

She said: "As soon as they could, they were on a bike.

"I am very proud of the kids winning such prestigious awards and being given them by an Olympian. They got to hold his gold medal and he gave them his autograph."

Georgie Hopkins, 10, from Blackheath, who is part of Go-Ride Bexley, came third in the girls under-10s last year. She said: "It was fun. I never thought I would get to meet him. I watched him in the Olympics.

"I enjoyed listening to his opinions on things. I was nervous because there were all these cameras, so I was quite scared."

"I feel lucky that the Cyclopark is so close to where I live and that I can use it anytime. It sounded exciting."

The first phase of the park is due to be finished in March next year, with the whole park opening in spring 2012, subject to funding being in place.

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