Wharfedale sports duo chosen as Commonwealth Games bearers

Commonwealth Games batonbearers outside Leeds Civic Hall (from left) Laura Beardsmore, Ali Jawad, Nile Wilson and Norman Stephens

Commonwealth Games batonbearers outside Leeds Civic Hall (from left) Laura Beardsmore, Ali Jawad, Nile Wilson and Norman Stephens

First published in News Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A member of the British Aikido squad from Horsforth and a life member of Otley sailing club have been chosen as Batonbearers in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.

Laura Beardsmore, 27, is one of six people from Leeds chosen for the prestigious honour as the Queen’s Baton makes its way to Glasgow.

Sports volunteer Norman Stephen, 74, is also one of those picked in recognition of their contribution to sport and the community.

Laura has spent 16 years competing for Wharfedale, Leeds and Great Britain at national and international level Aikido. She won the World Individual Women’s Randori title last year, following victory in 2011, becoming the first person in history to win back to back world titles.

By winning three gold medals at the 2013 World championships she is currently ranked fifth in the list of all-time British medal winners and third in gold medals.

Laura runs seminars for young people, especially girls, to encourage the transition from junior to senior level competition and she has recently submitted a proposal to manage the GB squad.

Norman used to be a keen rugby player and referee and also organised a swimming club in East Leeds for more than 30 years. He is a life member of Otley Sailing Club and has helped to raise more than £50,000 to help disabled youngsters learn to sail through the SailFree scheme.

The Queen’s Baton Relay will tour Leeds on June 12, visiting local landmarks and acting as the centrepiece for events happening to celebrate the countdown to Glasgow 2014.

Dame Kelly Holmes, president of Commonwealth Games England, said: “Our England Batonbearers are going to play a crucial part when the Queen’s Baton Relay arrives in England on May 31.

“They have all been selected due to their passion for sport and the way in which they share this with their communities and look to get people involved and active.

“I’m encouraging everyone in Leeds to get involved when the Queen’s Baton Relay comes to your city – find out what event is taking place and if you can be there then please go and cheer on your Batonbearers and be part of the Team England send-off to Glasgow.”

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