Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Kate visits SportsAid workshop

The Duchess of Cambridge will visit the former Olympic Park to meet young athletes who are being helped by one of her charities .

The Duchess of Cambridge was praised for her prowess on the volleyball court as she played in a pair of towering wedge shoes.

Kate ran around in five-inch high heels making passes and hitting balls over the net as she visited the former Olympic Park today to see how the Olympians and Paralympians are being helped by one of her charities.

The extra inches of the black cork wedges may have given the duchess a height advantage but she made the most of it as she leapt to reach balls.

Kate's impromptu workout came as toured the copper box arena to learn about athlete workshops run by SportsAid.

Grace Lazard, 16, a promising volleyball player, shouted out encouragement to the royal when she joined her four-strong team.

The teenager, who had played this week in an international tournament in Denmark, said: "She was playing in heels, whoever plays in heels is amazing.

"She did really well and picked up the sport really quickly. I just feel really privileged and honoured to have played with her."

For the visit the duchess wore a casual outfit - a striped top, dark jacket, matching skinny jeans and those wedge heeled shoes

The duchess was an official ambassador for Britain's London 2012 teams and is patron of SportsAid, which gives young athletes a financial boost and other practical help at the start of their careers.

It helped 20 of the 29 Olympic gold medallists from London 2012 and 27 of the 34 Paralympic gold winners.

Sport stars supported by the charity in the past include cyclists Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sir Chris Hoy, heptathlete Jessica Ennis, diver Tom Daley, wheelchair racer David Weir and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington also received help from the organisation.

Not only were Kate's skills playing volleyball admired but so was her trim waistline.

As the Duchess jumped up to push the ball over the net, her striped top flew up to reveal a perfectly flat stomach.

Her son, Prince George, was born just over three months ago but she has already been able to shed the weight that most mothers put on during pregnancy.

Tim Lawler, chief executive of SportsAid, said: "I'm no volleyball expert but I thought she did great. She showed good skills and hand-eye co-ordination."

He added, joking, that his patron, who was attending her first public SportsAid event, realised she would have to change her footwear for the next visit: "She said 'I must remember to bring my trainers next time - this is great fun'."

The volleyball game was staged in the Copper Box sports arena and nearby were workshops where fencing, wheelchair basketball and cerebral palsy football was being played.

Kate stopped to talk to teenagers taking part in the other sports before she was taken to various sessions where the promising athletes were given coaching in other aspects of their career such as nutrition.

Before leaving, the Duchess attended a mock press conference where the youngsters questioned three of their counterparts, as Kate sat in the front row and listened.

The Duchess also quizzed the teenagers, saying: "It's fantastic you have all been part of SportsAid. How's it helped you with your training?"

The group, whose sports ranged from triathlon to squash, all highlighted how the financial support had been invaluable.

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