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Natasha in the Olympic spirit

CONTENDER: Lightweight Natasha Jonas

OLYMPIC 2012 hopeful, boxer Natasha Jonas, will be present at a special Liverpool city centre event this weekend to mark one year to go before the Olympic Games.

Liverpool-born lightweight Jonas initially started boxing to lose weight and get fit. Years later she is a four-time ABA champion and in 2009 won gold at the EU Championships in Bulgaria.

Organised by the city council’s sports development team, the event aims to give local families and young people the opportunity to meet some of Liverpool’s sporting heroes and find out more about getting involved in fitness in the city.

The city’s Williamson Square will be alive with activity from 11am – 4pm, with a range of exciting Olympic sports demonstrations to enjoy and even take part in – including gymnastics, boxing, basketball and handball.

Expert staff will be on-hand to offer a range of information and advice about taking up a sport or joining a club and there will also be an area for autographs and photographs with the sporting stars.

Cabinet member for culture and tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Liverpool is a city with a fantastic sporting heritage and we are hopeful our athletes will play a major role in next year’s Olympics.

“This event is about celebrating our sporting excellence, encouraging people of all ages to get active and bringing a real Olympic feel to the city centre as the nation begins the countdown to 2012. It will be a real gold medal occasion!”

Liverpool is one of the London 2012 training camps. Athletes from Oceania countries – including Fiji and Palau - will use the city’s state-of-the-art 50 metre swimming pool at Liverpool Aquatics Centre in Wavertree in the run up to the Games.

It follows a deal between Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) and the Northwest which will it is hoped will also include the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Liverpool has also been chosen as one of 66 locations across the UK selected to host the Olympic Flame as part of the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games. The iconic symbol is set to arrive in the city on Friday, June 1 next year, and plans are underway for a special evening celebration event to take place at the Pier Head to mark the unique occasion.

Jonas, 27, is a genuine contender for a fold medal next year. When asked who her greatest inspiration was, she said her nan. “She's the greatest, kindest, most caring and generous person I know. Plus she cooks fab meals,” added Jonas.

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