Olympic triathlete Jonny Brownlee trains young adults

Jonny Brownlee

Jonny Brownlee

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

Olympic medallist Jonny Brownlee trained a group of young adults as part of a scheme to encourage more people to volunteer in disability sports.

The champion triathlete took part in a session at the John Charles Sports Centre in Leeds, coaching a group of adults from The Bridge Adult Learning Disability Service.

The session, which saw Jonny join the group for a series of fun sprint drills on the track, was held by the charity Join In, which aims to highlight the opportunities for integration of disabled and able-bodied sport.

This week the charity is running All Join In Week, from August 23 to 29 – with the focus on encouraging people to volunteer within their community.

And Brownlee, who recently came away with a gold and silver medal from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, is urging people to give up their precious time for a very worthy cause.

He said: "It was inspiring for me to come down and see people not being scared of taking something on and taking a chance is fantastic.

"Volunteering is crucial in all sports, if it wasn’t for volunteers I wouldn’t be Commonwealth champion or an Olympic medallist.

"My local swimming club where I learned to swim was all based around volunteers giving up their time to take me to competitions."“For me personally I have not done much volunteering in sport and definitely not disability sport so All Join In Week is about encouraging people to do that.

"I can get caught up in my own little world of sport being my job and very serious, so it was good to see the pure side of sport and see people enjoying it.

"It is all about getting volunteers involved in disability sport and also encourages them to volunteer their time.

"It might be something completely new, you may be a little nervous about it, but sport is perfect for breaking down barriers."

Brownlee is an ambassador for BT, which has been supporting disability sport for the last 25 years, is a partner to Join In. As well as taking part in the session the Bramhope triathlete signed autographs and posed for pictures.

Martin Brennan, deputy manager at The Bridge, believes if Brownlee can get something out of his time volunteering then so can members of the general public.

"It was great for Jonny to come down and for everybody to meet him because he is a real inspiration and put a smile on all their faces," Brennan said.

"Volunteering in disability sport is rewarding because you get to see the progress that the people with disabilities make.

"Hopefully Jonny coming down here will show the public that giving their time to disability sport can be beneficial for both parties."

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