All jolly good sports

Sporting Lunch''Moray Soluade (basketball), 'John Fowler ( Lamberty Smith Hampton - sponsor)'Sophie Sankey (badmington)'Simon Green (table tennis)'Geoff Miller (speaker)'''Wk 24 MPMC

Sporting Lunch''Moray Soluade (basketball), 'John Fowler ( Lamberty Smith Hampton - sponsor)'Sophie Sankey (badmington)'Simon Green (table tennis)'Geoff Miller (speaker)'''Wk 24 MPMC

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FOUR of the most promising young sports stars in Milton Keynes received cheques to boost their medal hopes – and good wishes to send them on their way.

England cricket selector Geoff Miller gave a sparkling and humorous speech about his own 34 Test match career before egging on the award recipients to do their best at Friday’s Milton Keynes Sporting Lunch Club.

England number one U17 badminton player Sophie Sankey, 16, top 10 alpine skier Matthew Thompson, 17, top basketball prospect Morayoninyuluwa Soluade, 19, and paralympic table tennis star Simon Green were all given financial support by Sports Aid.

Mr Miller, a patron of Sports Aid said: “There are no short cuts to success.”

He said he was looking forward to seeing the budding sports stars on the TV winning gold medals in the future.

He added: “Sport keeps the country buoyant” and described how his parents took out a bank loan to give his own career a kick-start.

He joked: “I was the most boring cricketer ever to take the field and now I pick the England team!”

Cricket buffs chuckled along to his anecdotes including facing the legendary West Indian bowling quartet in 1976, currently the subject of a film.

Tim Lawler, the chief executive of the 35-year-old Sports Aid charity told the audience at Jury’s Inn, at The Hub, Central Milton Keynes, that the new city is a sports hotspot.

“We are constantly looking to where we can look next to support the next generation of stars,” he said.

“It is not about facilities but cash and the ability to manage time wisely. Champions always find a way around a lack of facilities.”

He said Sports Aidsupported athletes brought back 18 of the 19 gold medals from Beijing. This, he said, would have put Sports Aid in fifth place on the medals table.

The Citizen is a sponsor of the Sporting Lunch Club, which will be holding its next meeting on September 23.

> For further details visit www.mksportinglunchclub.co.uk