Updated: Friday, 3rd July 2020 @ 7:20am

Manchester athletes celebrate as 'nearest and dearest' get two free tickets to first Olympics event

Manchester athletes celebrate as 'nearest and dearest' get two free tickets to first Olympics event

By Ryan Bangs, Sportsbeat

Manchester will be responsible for a large chunk of Great Britain’s 550-strong team at next year’s Olympics – but it isn’t just the athletes set to reap golden benefits.

With Manchester the home to Britain’s elite cyclists, wrestlers, taekwondo and water polo players, plus the British Swimming set-up in Stockport – North West representation at the Games will be large.

Last month the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations, in partnership with P&G UK, announced their ‘nearest and dearest’ programme to support athletes’ friends and family.

And that means the Manchester contingent descending on London in 2012 will now be even bigger with every athlete’s ‘nearest and dearest’ receiving two free tickets for their first event with those attending the Paralympics collecting four.

The scheme’s roadshow passed through Manchester this week with the mum’s of swimmer Keri-Anne Payne and gymnast Beth Tweddle, among a host of North West London 2012 hopeful’s families, given a never before seen Games insight.

Olympic swimming bronze medallist Steve Parry was on hand to offer his support at the Crowne Plaza – and he knows firsthand the benefit of athletes’ friends and family realising how the Olympics work.

“Family and friends have been forgotten in the past and it is great to be informing them,” said Parry – who won 200m bronze at the Athens Olympics back in 2004.

“Getting the chance to speak to them was exciting. My mum and dad were big supporters of me and it is a fantastic idea as going to the Olympic Games is a very weird experience.

“My dad was told the morning of his flight to see me in Athens that he couldn’t go as he had shingles and it was a bit dramatic and my family kept that from me.

“And for the athletes they don’t want to be worry about their family too much, they will want to be relaxed in the athletes’ village and this will help them.

“There is a lot reminding them of the Games and it is an exciting time. In six weeks time it will be Olympic year and trials and selections will be taking place.”

Parry competed at a home Games himself, the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002, and he is adamant there won’t be a shortage of support in London next year.

“My mum went out to Greece with an army of Scousers who had rented a villa off the coast of Athens and it was brilliant to get that support from them and my family as well,” he added.

“I got a flavour of a home Games at the Commonwealths in Manchester in 2002 and the difference between competing at them compared to Kuala Lumpur in 1998 was so significant.”

Steve Parry was speaking at the Manchester leg of the ‘nearest & dearest’ roadshow in partnership with P&G – supporting family and friends of all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes in the lead up to London 2012.

Visit www.pgproudsponsorofmums.co.uk for more information.