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Former athletes Colin Jackson and Dani Rowe have said the Commonwealth Games and Lionesses’ Euros victory have made 2022 a “hugely important” year in sport, particularly for inspiring young people.
Ex-Team GB cyclist Rowe and former world champion hurdler Jackson both praised the UK’s top sports stars and hopes children will be encouraged to acquire a “having-a-go attitude”.
Jackson told the PA news agency he wants children to be motivated by athletes’ success.
“Us as top athletes, when we compete we never want people to to marvel and think ‘I can’t do it’,” the 55-year-old told the PA news agency.
“What you want them to do is marvel and say, ‘Oh, I’ll have a go.’
“And that ‘having a go’ attitude I think (children) will take through the whole of their life – they will taste a little bit of success and think, ‘I can do this.’
“And they won’t be afraid to take on challenges, that’s going to be really important for their future.”
Jackson said the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales, a venue partially funded by a £7.5million contribution from the National Lottery, is an example of “inspirational” facilities for young people.
“We need facilities like this for the youngsters to come to when they’ve been inspired by those sports stars, to train and feel like they’re part of a journey,” he said.
“And then the magic can really happen.”
He also likened winning gold at the Commonwealth Games to sitting an exam.
“You have no idea what the outcome is going to be, but you feel you’ve done all the preparation,” Jackson said.
“And then once the result comes and soon, you’re an A star student. You’ve done the best you possibly can… Those emotions are exactly the same.”
Less than a week on from Euro 2022 victory for England’s Lionesses, former road and track cyclist and Olympic gold medallist Rowe said the win gave her goosebumps.
“I was driving home from eight days of commentary (on the women’s Tour de France) listening to the women’s Euros on the radio, and I had goosebumps,” Rowe, 31, told PA.
“It was just incredible and everyone was talking about it, that is so powerful.
“You see young girls in their football kits now and you didn’t really see that before.
“This year will be hugely important for that change for women’s sport.”
She expressed similar sentiments to Jackson on the visibility of role models and sports facilities for young people.
“Events like this are so important because they’re televised and it means young children, boys and girls, can watch it and actually be inspired,” Rowe said.
“I think it all comes back to that visibility, the role models that work there – that support structure to be able to make a career option, I don’t think has been there until now.”