A celebratory lunch was held at the Drapers’ Hall in the City of London on 29th October, attended by the Masters and Members of the various Companies and athletes supported by the Twelve Great Livery Companies 2012 Athletics Fund.

Jean with Lawrence Okoye

This Fund, the brainchild of Lady Victoria Leatham (daughter of Lord Burghley, Olympic Gold medallist 1928) was set up in 2010 in the hope that it would provide life changing opportunities for talented athletes to gain selection for Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games.   The Ron Pickering Memorial Fund nominated a group of 21 deserving athletes to benefit from this Fund and many were there to be congratulated on their development over the past three years.

In 2011 Holly Bleasdale, Sophie Hitchon and Lawrence Okoye, all 20 years of age at the time, had set new British records for their events and gained medals at the European U/23 Championships.   Further success was gained at the European Junior and U23 level by David Bolarinwa, Andy Pozzi, Jack Green, and Jack Meredith.

However, the real impact of the support from the Twelve Great Livery Companies was apparent in the selection of nine athletes from the group for the 2012 Olympics.   These included Holly Bleasdale, Sophie Hitchon and Lawrence Okoye who reached the Final of their events as the youngest competitors.    After disappointment in the Semi-final of the 400m Hurdles, Jack Green produced the fastest lap for the 4 x 400m relay team which finished in 4th place.

Pride of place, however, went to Robbie Grabarz in the High Jump event.   He  followed his success just weeks before as European Champion with a well deserved bronze medal.