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Flying flag for London Olympics

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Olympic hopefuls of the future helped to mark the official handover of the games from Beijing to London when a flag was raised at the Riverside Park, Newark, on Sunday.

Seven sports stars from the district marked the end of the Beijing Olympics and heralded the start of the build-up to the London games in 2012 as they paraded to the flag.

The flag was hoisted by powerlifter Miss Natalie Blake and the Mayor of Newark, Mr Harry Molyneux.

Other flags in boroughs and districts across the country were raised at the same time to mark the torch being handed over to London.

Miss Blake (25) of Grange Road, Newark, left for China on Monday where she will compete in the Paralympics.

She praised the success of the able-bodied athletes who exceeded all expectations.

Miss Blake (25) said she hoped to produce a good performance.

“I just want to give myself three good lifts and hopefully, if there is a chance, get a medal, which would be a big bonus,” she said.

Among the future stars were brother and sister, Oliver and Elizabeth Carrington, of London Road, Balderton.

Oliver (14) competes in triathlon, cross-country, shooting and swimming.

He is a member of Newark Athletic Club, Newark Swimming Club and Lincoln Liberal Shooting Club.

His achievements include being in the Great Britain junior shooting squad, coming first at the East Midlands triathlon championships, fifth at the national triathlon championships and first at the Grantham and district school cross-country championships.

Oliver said his aim was to represent Great Britain in shooting at the Olympics.

He said he would like to compete at 2012 but more realistically it would be the following games in 2016.

Oliver also praised the efforts of the British team in Beijing.

His sister, Elizabeth (12) who is also a member of the athletic and swimming clubs, competes in triathlon, biathlon, swimming and cross-country.

Her achievements include winning the East Midlands triathlon championships and qualifying for the national championships, finishing sixth in the East Midlands biathlon championships and qualifying for the national championships, third place in the Grantham and district schools cross-country championships and 25th in the Nottinghamshire county swimming championships.

Neil Davies (19) of Leeway Road, Southwell, plays in the Great Britain men’s softball team.

The team finished third in this year’s European championships in Denmark and they qualified for the world championships in Canada.

Neil said he would have liked to have represented Great Britain at 2012 but softball and baseball were being dropped from the games.

Neil, who plays for the London Meteors, said they were hoping the sport would be reinstated for the 2016 games.

The British team in Beijing finished fourth in the medals table, claiming 19 golds and finishing with a total of 47 medals, making it the team’s most successful games for a century.

“I was very impressed,” said Neil.

“I was expecting us to be down in eighth or ninth place in the medals table.”

The oldest athlete in the parade was 76-year-old pole vaulter Mr Robert Brown, of Farthingate, Southwell.

Mr Brown, a member of Notts Athletic Club, has set a new world record in the British indoor national veterans’ championships and is the oldest man ever to compete in a British league match.

Mr Brown is also number two in the veterans’ pole vaulting world rankings.

Among the local athletes competing in Beijing were canoeists Lucy Wainwright and Fiona Pennie.

Lucy, of Main Road, Radcliffe, finished seventh in the K1 women’s flatwater 500m event after reaching the final.

Pennie, of Cotgrave, failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the K1 women’s slalom event.

Badminton star Nathan Robertson, of Cotgrave, saw his Olympic dream come to an end when he lost in the mixed doubles quarter-finals with his partner, Gail Emms.

Michael Whittaker of Whatton had to withdraw from the team showjumping event after his horse, Portofino 63, was declared unfit to compete.

The parade in Newark was organised by Newark and Sherwood District Council’s sport development team, which had a stall at the summer picnic event and ran an obstacle course for youngsters throughout the day.

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