9th Dec, 2016

Thousands turn out for UK's biggest ever sports day in Coventry after the success of Team GB at Rio 2016

Steve Carpenter 30th Aug, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

OVER 4,000 people helped bring the spirit of Rio to Coventry on Saturday as part of the I Am Team GB event.

Olympic legends and a host of other sports stars were joined by thousands of youngsters and volunteers to try out 17 different sports at the Ricoh Arena.

Rio 2016 Olympic Gold medal-winning sprint canoeist Liam Heath and partner Jon Schofield, were joined by London 2012 medal-winning gymnast Christian Thomas as well as stars of Wasps Rugby and Wasps Netball in the Jaguar Hall to help celebrate the most successful Team GB Olympics since 1908.

Heath, 32, won gold in the individual 200m kayak sprint event and the silver in the men’s double with Schofield, making him most successful British canoeist at the Olympics ever, with an additional a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics in the K-2 200 with Schofield.

“It is amazing to see so many people here at the Ricoh Arena with so many youngsters having a go at different sports and it’s been a great day,” said Heath.

“I went to a taster session when I was young and that is what me got me into canoeing in the first place, so these sort of events are perfect getting kids engaged.

“The interest since we returned from Rio has been phenomenal and hopefully it will inspire more people to take part in the sports which are being demonstrated.”

The Ricoh Arena was handpicked as the only Midlands venue to host the event as the National Lottery and ITV collaborated for the UK’s biggest ever sports day.

Dame Kelly Holmes, who won double gold at the Athens 2004 Olympics and a bronze in the 800m in Beijing in 2008, was back at the Ricoh Arena after performing the opening ceremony a decade ago.

England and Wasps rugby hero James Haskell, as well as Wasps’ Kearnan Myallwere were also at the event along with Tamsin Greenway, Mel Mansfield, Fran Williams, Josie Huckle, Sophie Candappa and George Fisher of Wasps Netball

“What a great day,” said Councillor Kamran Caan, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport at Coventry City Council, who along with leader George Duggins and deputy leader Abdul Khan, tried his hand at several of the sports.

“You could feel the energy at the Ricoh Arena, and to see so many young people wanting to try new sports and rubbing shoulders with their idols was fantastic.

“And who knows, someone who tried a sport for the first time might end up with an Olympic medal around their neck in a few years time.”