Olympian Sir Chris Hoy ‘perfect’ choice to be Manchester’s first ever city champion, says Diane Modahl

By Kim Richards

Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy is set to make his return to Manchester this autumn after being nominated as the city’s first ever champion by ex-Commonwealth athletics star Diane Modahl.

Manchester-based middle distance runner Modahl is launching ‘City of Champions’ – an event which aims to celebrate the talent and heritage the region has to offer.

After setting up her own sports foundation in 2010 to help disadvantaged young people in the region, the 46-year-old drafted in help from six-time Olympic champion Hoy to promote the charity.

“He’s perfect, he’s an adopted Mancunian who has based himself here in Manchester for the last decade because of the facilities we have in this city,” said Modahl.

“I think the thing that attracted us more than anything about Sir Chris was the fact he epitomises what it means to be a champion.

“He was in this city for the most crucial part of his career, and he is a great inspiration for the people here.

“He is the most successful Olympian of all time and it was fitting for us that we should induct him as our first ever city champion.”

Ex-800m specialist Modahl admitted it is rare for someone who is constantly in the public eye to give up their time to help smaller charities such her foundation.

She also believes Manchester is the perfect place to launch the event – which she hopes will become an annual occasion.

“To have somebody like Chris say ‘actually I want to be a part of this and support you in what you’re trying to do and where you want to go with your vision’ is very humbling and exciting for us,” said Modahl.

“Whenever I go abroad people always put Manchester on the map because of our sporting prowess. It’s a celebration of where we come from and being proud.

“It’s an opportunity for us as Mancunians and as a region to be able to look towards the future and being able to support the next generation to achieve their dreams and aspirations.

“There are young people in our region who have the talent but don’t have an opportunity because of their circumstance.”

Modahl hopes the arrival of Sir Chris as the city champion will boost the level of support for the charity and help to raise funds for other projects.

“We are very much in the grassroots of our foundation, and by gaining continued support we hope to build on the base we have built,” she added.

“In the future our aim is to work with more than a thousand young people and to have initiated over a hundred specialised programmes to reach out to as many people as we can.”

Image courtesy of Glasgow2014OC, via YouTube, with thanks

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