Olympic boxer’s mission to discover ‘grassroots heroes’

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YORKSHIRE’S Olympic boxing golden girl Nicola Adams has launched a new search for the nation’s heroes of grassroots sport.

The 29-year-old from Leeds, who became the first woman boxer to win an Olympic gold medal at London 2012, is spearheading the Yorkshire leg of the BBC Sports Unsung Hero Award 2012, which she launched at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

The Burmantofts-raised sports star credits her own unsung hero - her coach - with making her the success she is today.

“My unsung hero is Alwyn Belcher,” she said. “He’s my coach and he has been for maybe 17 years.

“He’s a really good guy, 76 years old and he’s still going strong, training me and all the other lads at his gym.

“He trains Monday to Sunday and sometimes he doesn’t finish until 11 o’clock at night”.

The Olympic champion explained she had first met her coach at a training camp.

“It was the first ever women’s training camp and I was 18 at the time,” she said.

“He wasn’t too sure about women’s boxing but he saw the hunger and desire that we had for the sport and it was that made him change his mind.

“He’s always been there for me, even outside boxing. I know my coach doesn’t get paid for what he does. He does it off his own back and for the love of the sport and just to be able to see us excel.”

The BBC Sports Unsung Hero Award aims to honour volunteers who might prepare facilities, roll the pitch, coach juniors, run local sports leagues or work behind the scenes.

“It’s nice to be able to give back a little bit of appreciation for the time and effort that they’ve put in,” Ms Adams said.

Once the nomination process has been completed, a shortlist of nominees in each area will be chosen by an expert panel.

The regional winners will attend the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December, where an overall winner will be announced.

Nominations can be made at bbc.co.uk/sportsunsunghero <http://www.bbc.co.uk/sportsunsunghero> using a printable form or by calling 0845 3088000. Nominations close at midnight on Monday next week.