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ATHLETICS: Longford launchpad for talent

Normally, most pupils will go out of their way to avoid after-hours tuition once the school bell has rung, writes Tim Street.

Normally, most pupils will go out of their way to avoid after-hours tuition once the school bell has rung, writes Tim Street.

But a sporty quartet at Longford School, in Feltham, are getting extra schooling in a bid to help them on the road to becoming top athletes.

One is year nine rugby league star Charlie Lawrence, who was featured in last week's Chronicle after getting picked for an England U14 squad.

Joining Charlie in the school's Talented Athletes' Programme are year 13 swimmer Alex Garnett and footballer Katie Owen, and year 10 diver Robyn Birch.

It's all the brainchild of PE director Liam Moore and director of sport health Chris McNab.

Moore, who has been at the school or eight years, said: "Rather than taking a one-sized-fits-all approach, we want to help our young talent in ways best suited to their development as athletes.

"We do things like work on their physical conditioning, and brought in a nutritional therapist to advise each individual on their dietary needs.

"It's just putting something in place to help them than little bit further, and providing things they may not be getting from their coaches.

"For example, Alex does a lot of swimming, but no weight training, so we help him build up his strength.

"It's something we're quite proud of as we're not a specialist sports school with out-side funding, it's something we've built up ourselves."

While Lawrence's exploits have been well chronicled, the other three have also made their mark on the international circuit.

Garnett was just one second outside the qualifying mark for this summer's Beijing Olympics, Owen has played for England Women U15, U17, U19 and U23s sets off soon for the U19 World Cup in Chile, and Birch has made the GB provisional diving squad for the London 2012 Olympics.

Meanwhile, Moore's next project is getting a new specialist gym built at Longford, which can again be tailored to individual needs.

It will include a 10m athletics track to improve power and acceleration, and cables which allow pylometrics - a type of training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, improve the functions of the nervous system and increase the speed or force of muscular contractions.

Moore added: "We hope it will be the best gym in the area, and can be used by other schools too."

* Does your school have a sports story? It doesn't have to be a big story - we are interested in hearing your school teams' week-toweek results and scorers too. Call 020 8538 2231, or email: sportshounslow@trinitysouth.co.uk

 

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