5 June 2009
When it comes to seeking advice Ross Murray and Shaunna Thompson – two of the athletes selected on the 2009 UKA Heroes project – are lucky enough to have British Olympic heroes past and present to call on.
Newton Heath sprinter Thompson came within a whisker of beating 400m Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu at the Great City Games in Manchester in a 100m race and the pair quickly formed a bond.
And the 17-year-old admits the experience has only fuelled her desire to break into the senior ranks.
“The first time I met Christine it was and she was really nice,” she said. “She called me over to have dinner with her and wanted to get to know me – she didn’t have to do that.
“A few of my friends thought I might have been a bit scared alongside them and in front of a big crowd but I loved it and I want more of that.
“I was so close to Christine – my coaches didn’t think I would handle all the press stuff as well but I just blanked it all out and went for it – that’s what you’ve got to focus on at the big events. I want to be in the big time and I want to get there as soon as I can.”
Meanwhile, 800m specialist Murray rubs shoulders with an equally illustrious athlete – middle distance great Steve Cram.
The 18-year-old Gateshead Harrier set a new personal best time of 1.50.6minutes at the weekend – knocking 2.7 seconds off his previous PB.
And Murray insists Cram’s words of wisdom are like gold dust in his quest to follow the former Olympic silver medallist into the history books.
He said: “I know Steve Cram quite well and he’s been a great help to me.
“His son trains at the same track and every time I see him he always passes advice on to me – he’s such a genuine bloke and a legend in the North East.”
As well as having two Olympic medallists to assist them in the formative stages of their careers, Murray and Thompson will also reap the financial rewards from being selected on the Original Source sponsored UKA Heroes Project.
The duo were two of 15 athletes unveiled at the Bedford international Games on Sunday that would be joining the Heroes Project after being handpicked by UKA’s Performance team after demonstrating considerable ‘potential’.
Murray and Thompson will receive two £500 bursaries towards kit, travel expenses, medical support and equipment during the summer, while one of the 15 newly-appointed Heroes will bank a further £1000 should they be selected as the winning Hero by UKA.