|Learning from a Legend
Jon Pollock holds court at Robin Park Arena
HE'S a veteran of four Paralympic Games...
Played for every major league team from here to Sydney...
And enjoyed a glittering 20 year career that's given him virtually every major medal the sport has to offer.
But now Wigan's very own wheelchair basketball superstar Jon Pollock is ready for a different challenge...coaching the next generation to sporting success.
Jon, 36, officially hung up his Team GB vest late last year after the team made the semis in the London Summer Olympics. Fiercely competitive and never one to sit on the sidelines, Jon has teamed up with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) to put on a special wheelchair basketball and sports taster session at Robin Park Arena.
If all goes according to plan, it could be the start of something big for would-be wheelchair athletes from Wigan Borough and beyond.
The free two-hour session will take place at Robin Park Indoor Sports Centre from 11am onwards on Saturday February 9 and Jon says places are being snapped up fast.
"We've got people from as far away as Kent coming along to the session," says Jon, who is currently training to become part of the Team GB coaching set up. "We want to look at our homegrown talent and help to bring it along. When I was first discovered I was told that I had a natural ability for the game but it took the right mentoring to bring the skills out. This is what we want to do for others and who knows, we could even find the next Team GB superstars right here in Wigan."
WLCT's Sports Development Unit is working with Jon on the project and the team members will be helping him to deliver the pilot session.
School Sports and Disability Development Officer with WLCT Jane Bent explains: "The project is specifically aimed at people with physical disabilities who want to give sport a go or get back into sport if they have had an accident."
It's not just about basketball either because Jane and the team want to use the session to encourage people to have a go at whatever sport they want to.
"It could be particularly relevant for ex-service personnel who may have been disabled in the line of duty and now want to get back into a sport they know and used to play," says Jane. "Or to try a new one either purely for pleasure or as part of their recovery process.
"Whatever the reason, we'd like to see as many people as possible here on the day.
Joining Jon, Jane and the Sports Development Team on the day will be WLCT's Chief Executive Stuart Murray and Wigan Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure, Cllr Chris Ready.
Stuart says: "At WLCT we believe in providing access to sporting opportunities for everyone and this project is a great example of this. We're really lucky to have someone of Jon's calibre on-board. He's a real sporting superstar who will undoubtedly be passing his winning ways on to everyone who attends on the day."
Whilst Cllr Ready adds: "We're famous for world class sport in Wigan Borough and here we have someone from the borough, who has reached the very top of their sport, passing their knowledge on to other people from our borough. Our aim is to use this as a platform to create the borough's first wheelchair sports club and in the fullness of time maybe even a centre of excellence for wheelchair sport right here in Wigan."
And whatever the sport, there is one this Jon feels passionately about they have certainly help others with:
"Winning!" he says. "It really is everything to a competitive sports person. I was known for not taking losing too well when I was part of Team GB and we'll be looking for that winning edge in others as part of the course."
The Wheelchair Sports taster session takes place at Robin Park Indoor Sport Centre from 11am onwards on Saturday February 9. It is a free event and anyone interested is invited to turn up on the day.
For more information on Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, visit the website www.wlct.org