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Chance to sprint with the very best

21 May 2006

Sixteen North East children will be given the opportunity of a lifetime next month to compete at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix on the same track as the fastest men in the world.

Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell - the two fastest men ever over 100m - will race at the Gateshead meeting on June 11. And UK Athletics is looking for the quickest youngsters in the region to show their own talents on the day in a couple of specially arranged races as part of the Fastest Kids In The North initiative.

Places in those races are up for grabs at a sprint trials day at Baltic Square in Gateshead on Tuesday.

Local primary schools have been invited by UK Athletics to come down and be timed over 50m, with the quickest eight girls and eight boys going forward to race at the Grand Prix.

Before their big day, the sixteen hopefuls will get the opportunity to meet Gatlin, who last week set a new world record of 9.76 seconds.

Gateshead-based inter-national sprinter Susan Deacon will be on hand at the sprint trials to offer her encouragement for the pupils.

And the former national champion says the initiative offers an amazing opportunity for those lucky enough to be successful.

Deacon said: "This is a really great way to get kids in the North East involved in sprinting. There are many established senior British athletes who would bite your hand off to get a run at an event as big as the Norwich Union British Grand Prix, so it's a great prize on offer."

Coun John McElroy, holder of the portfolio for culture at Gateshead Council, said: "Having a race like Powell v Gatlin is great for the profile of the area, but it's equally important that major events like the Norwich Union British Grand Prix really engage local youngsters and get them interested in sport."

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