Duo cross the Olympic line

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A WHITBY father and his daughter had the thrill of being among the first runners to cross the official London Olympics’ track finishing line when they succeeded in gaining places in the National Lottery Olympic Park run.

Chris Gozzard who lives in Ruswarp Lane, Whitby, an educational consultant, was a keen runner for many years but had to stop due to problems with his knees.

But when he saw that people were being invited to try for a place on a national lottery sponsored draw to take part in a trial run on the official track he couldn’t resist taking his chance for a place along with his daughter Lorna who now lives in London but is a former pupil of Whitby School.

Although they were among 45,000 applicants for just 6,000 places they were successful. Chris described it as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

He said: “The course was five miles around all the major Olympic Park venues culminating in a 300 metres run around the Olympic track.

“The track itself is absolutely spectacular with a surface like a carpet. We were also able to take two visitors so my wife Susan and son Liam and his partner Bea and my daughter’s partner Dave were all there to watch us.

“It was done as an opportunity for the organisers to try out the stadium and how it’ll work. It’s all virtually finished now and I’m sure it’s going to be a great success. I think the British will do well.”

Chris, who ran in the London Marathon 20 years ago, said: “I think I might take up running again. It was worth the pain in my knees.”

All the runners were given t-shirts and medals to commemorate the event and for Chris and Lorna their Olympic experience is not over. Both have been accepted as volunteers to help during the course of the Olympics which runs from 27 July to 12 August.

Chris said:   “We believe in the true Olympic ideals of friendship, excellence and respect by becoming involved in whatever way we can.”

When he was training for his Olympics run, Chris had to fit it in around his work. He said: “I ran in some very different venues.

“I started with the Prom in Great Yarmouth on a very icy January night through to the warmth of Tenerife in early February. Finally in March it was in Shanghai and Nanjing in China where I was delivering creative workshops to teachers.”