London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics: Essex ambassador needed? Dan is your man!

PARALYMPIC hopeful Dan Bentley is looking forward to becoming a sporting ambassador for Essex in the run up to the 2012 games in London.

Bentley, a gold medallist in Beijing 2008, will be hoping to repeat the feat next time out in the game of Boccia, a variation on indoor bowls played with soft leather balls.

But before the London games arrive in just 18 months time the Essex star has some work to do in helping to teach the sport to school children and promote the overall 2012 event.

“This is the second time that I have received this award,” he said. “I received it before Beijing and it helped me so much with my training. Plus, it helped me in finding people to help with my training.

“Last time it was a lot easier to find people to help as I was at university and it was also easier to get facilities.

“I really enjoy my role of an ambassador, I like teaching Boccia to school children because they seem to really enjoy the sport, I think this is because it is a new game to them.

“I hope that promoting Boccia will get people behind the GB team ahead of the 2012 games.”

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Bentley follows in the footsteps of Dunmow Hockey player Chloe Rogers who was also registered as one of 13 Essex ambassadors who are all set to be involved in the Olympics and Paralympics.

Athletes all receive a sum of up to �6500 to help with training, transport and equipment costs.

Bentley added: “This money will help me move towards 2012 with training, travel and employing PA’s to help.

“My training includes nine hours of Boccia, two hours of gym work and one hour of swimming, plus help on training with weekends away.

“I have to have someone to assist with this work. The money will also help me to fund my travel to Haverhill to train three times a week as I cannot get use of the marked Boccia court Dunmow sports hall.”

Past ambassadors have found themselves starting the London 2012 Open Weekend celebrations, speaking at an International events and testing their skills at the Essex Urban Games.

Some of the ambassadors have also taken part in the unique Journey to the Podium project where they have been immortalised in a piece of art.

The county council’s cabinet member for education and the 2012 Games, Cllr Stephen Castle, said: “I am delighted that the Team Essex Ambassador programme is able to support local talented athletes as they strive to realise their goal of reaching the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The ambassador programme enables schools and local communities to meet the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. It is my wish that the athlete’s determination, dedication and desire to reach the 2012 games is a source of inspiration to young people in Essex.”