Olympian Richard Kilty helps young athletes reach the top

An Olympian and international businessman who both had difficult upbringings in Stockton, have teamed up to help young athletes reach their potential.

Despite growing up in poverty, drug addiction and violence, Teesside Tornado Richard Kilty is one of the few British athletes to have won a medal at every major outdoor and indoor championship.

His natural talent, hard work and will to win overcame all odds and he is determined that a group of talented young sports stars from Stockton – whom he has identified – start out with a level playing field.

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He said: “I know the struggles of not having money as a youngster in sport and maybe not having the support and helping hands around you.

“You have to travel a lot and some parents don’t drive and maybe don’t have the money to buy the kit their son or daughter needs.”

Stockton City Council has asked Richard to visit local schools as part of its Playground to Podium program where he, his wife – elite triple jumper Dovilė Kilty – and England international jumper Scott Hall inspire and coach students .

After a five-week training camp, five athletes between the ages of 10 and 12 were selected.

“They all have the raw talent to succeed. They are so naturally gifted and were so engaged in what we were saying,” the 32-year-old said. “But there are many other factors in reaching the top of the sport. I know that only too well.

To give them extra help, Richard and Scott will provide them with free coaching once a week and all their equipment, running spikes, tracksuits and transport costs will be provided by Billingham-based businessman Kevin Barry.

“He comes from a very similar background to mine. He grew up around the corner from my house,” Richard said.

“I heard Kevin’s story. He comes from very humble and difficult beginnings. It’s great to see that we’re on the same page and when we met, we hit it off right away.

Mr Barry is the managing director of Milk & Grind cafes – which has just opened in Stokesley – and of Future World Technology, the developer of a global online recruitment app called 1MinCV.

He said: “I feel so privileged and truly humbled to be able to help Richard and these talented young athletes.

“He’s such a fantastic role model who will continue to inspire them. We both want to give them an opportunity for their ability to shine.

It is planned to recruit up to seven additional young athletes and the first group – made up of sprinters and long jumpers – could soon enter competition.

“Kevin and I can’t wait,” Richard said. “We are going to have a minibus and everything will be marked and when we go to competitions they will all be dressed the same.”

He added: “I want them to go out there and be bold. These kids are so good anyway they’ll stand out a mile.

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Naomi C. Amerson