Billinge pole vaulter Harry Coppell meets Duchess of Cambridge

St Helens Star: The Duchess chats to Harry Coppell.. Picture: Nathan Gallagher/SportsAid The Duchess chats to Harry Coppell.. Picture: Nathan Gallagher/SportsAid

Youth world champion pole vaulter Harry Coppell from Billinge was one of three SportsAid athletes who met the charity’s Patron, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, at its SportsBallTM in London last night.

The 17-year-old former Chapel End pupil was on the shortlist for SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award alongside rower Jess Leyden and shooter Amber Hill – who won the award – and before it was presented each of them was formally introduced to the Duchess during a VIP reception for the charity’s supporters.

“It’s been a good night and was amazing to meet the Duchess as she walked in,” Harry said. “She’s such a nice person to talk to. Very down to earth.

"She asked me how I got into my sport, about my achievements, and we talked about how I went from high jump to pole vault which she said was one of her favourite sports to watch in athletics. It’s great to know she is supporting people like us who have been nominated and everyone that SportsAid represents - that we have such a good team behind us to help us succeed.”

The judging panel that shortlisted Harry for SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award 2013 included experts from BBC Sport, UK Sport, Sport England, the British Olympic Association, the English Institute of Sport and SportsAid.

His nomination came in recognition of his superb performances and commitment this year, including a gold medal at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Ukraine – making him the first British male to hold a world pole vault title.

"SportsAid helps talented athletes like Harry to overcome some of the huge financial and other the challenges they face before other means of support are available to them. His financial support from SportsAid was made possible by Lloyds Bank, a long-standing partner of the charity, through its Local Heroes programme.

“I’d like to thank Lloyds for all the help they’ve given me over the last year,” Harry added. “All the funding and support has been great to have and has helped me to buy the equipment that’s enabled me to achieve so much this year.”

At the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games former recipients of SportsAid’s support won 20 of Team GB’s 29 gold medals and 27 of ParalympicsGB’s 34 gold medals. They included Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Richard Whitehead and David Weir.

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