|Mayor Honours Wigan’s Sporting Stars
Jenny Meadows with the Mayor and consort
It read like a local version of the Sports Personality of the Year – the guest list for the Mayor’s Parlour as Cllr Myra Whiteside invited the borough’s brightest sports stars, club leaders and volunteers for a celebration at the end of a momentous year of sport.
Olympians Jenny Meadows, Jon Pollock and Louise Watkin joined winners of the Wigan Sports Awards and Games Makers, plus senior dignitaries from Wigan Council and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust to reflect on 2012.
Cllr Whiteside told them: “I am so proud of all your achievements and I am thrilled that my year as Mayor has coincided with such an astonishing list of achievements. The turnout on the day the Olympic Torch came through our streets and the pride in our athletes really showed that Wigan Borough loves its sport and I salute you all.”
Earlier, the Mayor honoured Jenny Meadows with a star on the piazza of the new Wigan Life Centre for services to the town.
In the Parlour, wrestling legend Roy Wood shared his story of how he brought the highly successful wrestler Maria Dunn from the Pacific Island of Guam to Wigan to train for the London Games. Roy even carried the flag for her at the Opening Ceremony. He told the Mayor that Maria unexpectedly lost out early in the Games – only discovering later that she was six months’ pregnant!
The event gave winners of the Wigan Sports Awards, including several ‘volunteers of the year’, chance to swap stories with professional athletes.
Swimmer Louise Watkin brought her bronze and silver medals from two Paralympic Games and John Pollock, whose Paralympic basketball career goes back to Sydney, spoke of the support received at home. European Indoor 800m Champion Jenny Meadows, who narrowly missed the London Games because of injury, delivered an inspiring presentation to the Mayor’s guests about her career and the trials and tribulations of training.
“I am always proud to say I am a Wiganer,” said Jenny. “The Mayor kindly reminded people I took Wigan Warriors as my ‘Mastermind’ specialist subject. Being connected to the community and clubs is important to me. It’s thanks to the training facilities of the council and the support of locals as they cheer me on when I am out training, that I can really focus as an athlete.”
Before the gathering in the parlour, the Mayor unveiled a ‘star’ on the Wigan Walk of Fame for Jenny. This collection of stars at the Life Centre includes fellow sporting celebrity Billy Boston. All those who are honoured do so for going beyond the ‘day job’ as they have become ambassadors for the borough.
As well as an opportunity to share successes and memories from behind the scenes at the Olympics, the Mayor looked forward to the borough hosting two games in next year’s Rugby League World Cup and the chief executive of the Leisure and Culture Trust paid tribute to the partnership with voluntary groups which, in challenging economic times, means local pools at Tyldesley and Hindley are being kept open to support the champions of the future.