By Tony Walley.
Former Olympic Gold Medallist Daley Thompson will be cycling his way to Stoke-on-Trent on 8 July as part of a national campaign to halt knife crime.
The champion decathlete will be stopping by in Norton to see how a StreetGames session benefits the young people in the community.
The visit, organised by the Laureus Sports Foundation, which helps young people all over the world by spreading the message of tolerance and peace through sport, is part of a larger cycle ride by Daley throughout the country, and comes immediately after one of the city’s biggest cycling successes of the past year in the Tour Series race.
The ride is to present a report to the Government, addressing the role sport can play in reducing knife and gang crime in the UK. Daley will also be visiting Coventry, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Newbury on his way to Westminster, after starting from Manchester on Tuesday 7 July.
Daley said: “The report really struck a chord. A gang is actually not that different from a sports team, both provide you with a sense of belonging,
status and excitement.
“While sport also helps you develop control over your emotions and learn to respect certain boundaries, being in a gang can be destructive.”
Councillor Derek Capey, cabinet member for sport and leisure said: “To have an athlete of Daley’s calibre coming to
Stoke-on-Trent is brilliant for the city, but we must also heed to important message he brings with him.
“Sport can play an important part in showing people there is more to life than getting involved in gangs that can lead them down a dangerous path. The city has a responsibility to reinforce this message and Daley’s visit will help us highlight this.
“StreetGames has been a huge success in the communities where it operates, and it really helps young people understand the values of teamwork and co-operation, as well as health and fitness. It has also been a really effective way of tackling anti social behaviour in the city.”
“The fact he’s cycling here adds to our reputation as a cycling city. With both the Tour of Britain and Tour Series enjoying huge success here in the last 12 months, it’s actually quite fitting that Daley make his journey here by bike.”
Insp Mark Hardern, commander of Tunstall Neighbourhood Policing Unit (NPU), said: “We are working very hard with our partner agencies to engage young people in positive activities, and away from anti-social behaviour.
“A variety of activities already takes place throughout the week at local youth centres and a programme of activities is organised every school holiday.
“The ‘Breaking the Cycle of Violence’ scheme is another excellent example of partnership working with young people.
“The scheme highlights the importance of engaging young people in sport and away from youth crime.
“It is a real coup for the people of Norton to get a visit from Daley Thompson, who is such a well-known and respected sports star. I hope that young people in the community will involve themselves in the StreetGames event taking place when he visits.
“Only by everyone working together can we make a real difference to the community and the quality of people’s lives.”