Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Trio can push on to our new golden age

Wendy Houvenaghel
Richard Chambers
Peter Chambers

Chambers brothers and Wendy can become legends by aiming high to win and matching Dame Mary Peters’ achievement, David Moorcroft tells Steven Beacom

Former British athletics great Dave Moorcroft believes Wendy Houvenaghel and the Chambers brothers will become Northern Ireland sporting legends like Dame Mary Peters if they win gold at the Olympics.

Mary P, of course, triumphed in the 1972 Games in Munich, winning the pentathlon, and now 40 years on a new generation of Ulster Olympic heroes could emerge in London.

Moorcroft, who competed in three Olympics from 1976 to 1984 and famously broke the 5000m world record 30 years ago, is the Director for Sport at ‘Join in' who launched their campaign in Belfast to promote the ‘Join in Weekend' on August 16/17 when the United Kingdom's biggest celebration of local sport will take place.

The ‘Join in Weekend' is timed to go ahead just after the Olympics which will hopefully bring glory for Northern Ireland competitors such as Beijing silver medal cyclist Houvenaghel, part of the GB squad in the Team Pursuit category, and brothers Peter and Richard Chambers who are strongly fancied to do well in the lightweight fours rowing event.

Fifty-nine-year-old Moorcroft says victory in London would change their lives.

“For Wendy to move from silver to gold would be life changing and something that she would never ever forget,” said the ex-Chief Executive of the British Athletic Federation.

“The difference between winning gold and silver may be minute but the consequences are huge.

“Silver is fantastic but gold would take Wendy to a new level.

“I'm sure Wendy, and her GB team-mates, will have everyone screaming for them in the Velodrome and of course everyone in Northern Ireland will be roaring her on.

“You think of one of the athletes I've always looked up to — Mary Peters — and she has become a legend because she got it right by that fraction of a second in Munich 1972 and won gold in the Olympics.

“If Wendy could follow suit and win gold she too would become a legend.

“It would be the same in the rowing if Peter Chambers and Richard Chambers could strike gold in their event and indeed anyone else from Northern Ireland if they end up on top of the podium.

“There are moments in your life when you have to be extra special and for athletes the Olympics is that moment because you only get one chance every four years to win an Olympic gold in comparison to say golfers who have four chances every year to win a major.”

Moorcroft will be commentating for Canadian television at the Olympics and he cannot wait for one confrontation in particular.

“The likes of Rebecca Adlington, Chris Hoy and Tom Daley will be worth watching in their sports and in athletics from a British point of view Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Dai Greene and Phillips Idowu could win.

“But from a worldwide perspective I think it will be fascinating to see Yohan Blake take on Usain Bolt in the sprint races. That could be amazing,” Moorcroft stated.

Bolt is an athlete who inspires and fresh from seeing him and others with incredible sporting prowess in London, Moorcroft believes the ‘Join In Weekend' can keep the feel-good factor going.

He says: “When you get a good Olympics like Sydney 2000 for instance I know the Australians were gagging for more and saying now what?

“There is an incredible energy and excitement at the end of the games and British sport has got to try and grab that moment so I think the ‘Join in Weekend' is a great idea.

“It is reinforcing community sport, volunteers and clubs who have helped produce greats like Mary Peters.”

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