Praise heaped on Maidenhead's Olympic heroes

Reporter:

Will Taylor

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Praise has been heaped upon Maidenhead athletes following Team GB's record-breaking success at the Rio Olympics, and the town's sports clubs hope to capitalise on it.

A range of medal winners are based in the area, including Kate Richardson-Walsh, who captained the women’s hockey team to gold in the Olympic final.

Maidenhead MP and Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The outstanding achievements of Team GB’s Olympians have made history and I am especially proud that several medals have been won by Maidenhead residents.

“They will serve as a real inspiration for children and adults not just in the local area but across the whole country.”

Maidenhead Hockey Club had seven people get in touch within a day of the women's team securing the gold, with around 20 people having contacted the club across the summer.

Rob Kempton, joint men’s club captain at Maidenhead, said: “It is absolutely fantastic.

“To put that into perspective, we might get one or two new people a month.

“To get seven over the course of 24 hours, I think that is really good.”

The club is holding an open day, Hockeyfest, at Altwood School on Saturday, September 3, where those interested can sign up and take part in games from 1pm.

Huw Jenkins, junior coach at Maidenhead Rowing Club, hoped it too would capitalise on the success of the games, but added membership in the junior section was almost close to capacity already.

He said: “There may be an increase, we saw that after the last Olympics.”

The club has room still for adults, including those that want to join for recreation, and not to compete.

Royal Borough council leader Simon Dudley raised the possibility of new facilities which could boost the town’s Olympic contribution even further for future Games, including at the proposed replacement for the Magnet Leisure Centre.

He said: “When we look at the configuring of Maidenhead Leisure Centre we will think if there’s anything that can go in there to help athletes.

“One thing is, should we be thinking about a 50m swimming pool?

“Would that help people?”

“If we could win as many swimming medals as the Americans we could be topping the medal table.”

Reflecting on Rio, he added: “I thought the games were just an amazing example of the endeavour and determination of our athletes and we are extremely proud of them and what they did.

“Some of our local sporting facilities, like Bisham Abbey, have our athletes based at them for training and we’re very fortunate for that.”

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