Bolton is going for gold
PUBLISHED: 12:01 13 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:37 20 February 2013
Never mind the plight of Bolton Wanderers – there's more than football in this great Lancashire town, as Amanda Griffiths discovers.
Football, boxing, baseball theyre just some of the sports represented by Bolton on a national level and with all eyes turning towards the London 2012 Olympics this month its no surprise to find that Bolton wants a piece of the action.
The people here already have a head start. The official Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville were born in Bolton, inspired by drops of molten metal in a local steelworks.
The townspeople have also welcomed the Olympic torch on its tour of Britain. The town is also hosting the Bolton 2012 Games, which runs throughout the summer holidays and will include a taster of every sport in the Olympics for children right across the borough.
Its a clever way of engaging children with the London event and, more importantly, getting them out of the house, away from computer games and doing some exercise in the summer holidays. And if its fun too, thats a bonus!
With so many sporting activities and events taking place its no surprise that Bolton Council have dedicated 2012 as its Year of Sport, with a 12 month programme of events.
It all kicked off in February with the opening of Bolton One, a new 30 million leisure complex.
We have had a key programme of regeneration for Bolton town centre, says Keith Davies, of Bolton Council. Bolton One, a 30 million partnership between us, the university and the NHS, was a key part of that programme.
The facilities at Bolton One include a 25 metre, eight lane swimming pool as well as a separate sports science area for the university and room for the NHS to bring some core services into the town centre.
We are lucky we have managed to make sizeable progress in our regeneration programme in the last three years, even in the face of recession, said Keith, the towns director of regeneration and development.
Some projects havent gone forward in the same time frames as wed initially anticipated but we have managed to move forward with them.
The next big thing for us will be the new 48 million interchange which will see the bus station moving next to the railway station and a new commercial development as well. Were hoping work will start by the end of this year or beginning of next, he says.
Theres also a 4 million refurbishment of Boltons iconic market place on the cards to help the town stand out from the crowd. The market is, of course, a huge draw with coach loads of visitors each year. Its part in the towns Year of Sport means promoting fresh, healthy diets.
There are lots of sporting links in Bolton, which is why we decided to dedicate this year as the year of sport, says Keith. The programme of events has included boxing matches, badminton championships and the Olympic torch relay.
Then, theres Ironman UK, which returns this month. Its a very important event for Bolton, this is the fourth year its been here and weve asked the organisers to put on a childrens event.
IronKids will consist of a run in the town centre the day before the Ironman event, for local children and the children of the adults competing in the main event with the emphasis on participation rather than winning. There are no place prizes, instead every child taking part will be given a medal and a T-shirt.
We are really looking forward to bringing IronKids to Bolton, says Kevin Stewart, managing director of Ironman UK and Ireland.
It is a great initiative with the powerful aim of making sport accessible and enjoyable to younger audiences. It is the perfect opportunity for children in Bolton to get involved with sport and for Ironman UK entrants to keep their children entertained while they prepare for their race the next day.
Another exciting event for children this month is the arrival of The Brendan Cole Dance Academy, which takes place at Bolton School from July 30th to August 1st, proving that sport is more than just football or rugby.
Brendan, a regular on the popular BBC television show Strictly Come Dancing, is running the workshops as part of a wider programme of sporting activities aimed at raising fitness and skill levels among the countrys young people in the run up to the Olympics. Devised in partnership with the Cooperative and Active Sport, they are also about having fun.
The inspiration behind my academy is so much more than teaching kids to dance, says Brendan. He grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, but soon found that dancing lessons were taking the place of rugby practice after school.
Its the opportunity to share what I experienced throughout my childhood and something I am very excited about doing. Its not just about learning steps and keeping fit; it can develop a childs mind and learning skills and I honestly believe that dance can have a major and very positive effect on growth and development through childrens early years.
And if all that wasnt enough, the sporting theme continues next year as Bolton will be hosting the Fijian team when they compete in the the Rugby World Cup. Bolton Arena will be used as the teams training camp and the De Vere Whites Hotel as their base during the competition which kicks off in Cardiff in October 2013
Video courtesy of Lancashire One