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Olympic gold-medallist Dame Katherine Grainger backs Bourne End canoeist

James Harrison

James Harrison

Olympic gold-medallist Dame Katherine Grainger gave her backing to the next generation of sport stars at a special awards ceremony.

The retired rower was at the Bucks Sporting Lunch on Friday, at Dorney Lake, where she handed over £1,000 to support the training and development of talented canoeist Georgia Carmichael.

And in turn, the 15-year-old from Bourne End, a pupil at Claires Court School, in Maidenhead, used the opportunity to pay tribute to the volunteers and mentors who have helped her to a clutch of national championship titles.

“My headmaster at Claires Court School, has been really supportive as he understands how sporting success can lead to academic achievement," she said.

"He even gave me time off today to collect my award.

"Despite training nearly every day, I still want to do well at school.”

Georgia, who competes for Longridge Canoe Club, in Quarrywood Road, Bisham, took up the sport aged 10 and has already been selected for the British Canoeing English National Talent Squad, marking her as a potential candidate for Olympic selection in the future.

Last year she was crowned under-14 girls national sprint champion and under-14 girls national marathon champion.

She added: “I would like to say a massive thank you to SportsAid and the Bucks Sporting lunch club for this award.

"But none of this would be possible without our head coach Tom Daniels, who isn’t paid a penny, yet coaches us six days a week.

"I’m very grateful for the time he invests in the club and in me."

She plans to put the money towards a new boat bag and travelling costs.

She also hopes to contribute to a new changing tent at Longridge after the last one was blown away by Storm Dorris.

Dame Katherine said: "One of the brilliant things about sport is that you're never doing it alone – you have all this support from your family, coaches and SportsAid funding to help you.

"It's so wonderful and will enrich your life."

The event also saw about £4,000 raised to continue the work of the club.

It has received £35,000 since it was started in 2011 to provide support and funds for talented young athletes.

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