Olympians spur on team
Published 18 Aug 2012 17:00 0 Comments
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Top team: Olympic athletes from the Solomon Islands join Laurel Park Whirlwinds Under-9s from Earley at their weekly training session
OLYMPIANS who travelled more than 9,000 miles to compete at London 2012 surprised a group of young footballers in a Reading park when they joined them for a kick about.
The Laurel Park Whirlwinds Under 9s were just finishing their weekly training on Wednesday evening last week when they were approached by the visiting party from the Solomon Islands.
They included three of the country's four competing athletes - weightlifter Jenly Tegu Wini, 100m sprinter Chris Walasi and Tony Lomo, who made the last 16 of the 60kg men's judo - and president of its Olympic committee, James Iroga.
Lisa Young, a teacher at Hillside Primary School in Lower Earley, arrived to pick up her son Caine Dixon, nine, and said: "They played football with the boys and were talking about who they had competed against. "The sprinter was telling them his dream was to beat Usain Bolt and the boys had lots of questions.
"Did you see him? Do you know him? They were brilliant, it was so good of them to come over and spend time with the children.
"The boys have been watching the Games, especially the running.
"I think they were quite amazed by it, overwhelmed that they were actually meeting people who had taken part in the Olympics.
"They also asked about where the Solomon Islands were, it was a great experience."
Before heading to speak to others in the Rushey Way park, the athletes presented the footballers with Solomon Islands necklaces and Olympic pin badges.
They explained how they had been driven by London 2012 officials around Manchester and Birmingham and had also asked to see Reading.
The Solomon Islands is made up of nearly a thousand islands in the south Pacific and has a population of around half a million.
It won independence from Britain in the 1970s but remains part of the Commonwealth, with the Queen as its head of state.
This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 16 Aug 12