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Meet Maeve Maguire

Maeve Maguire -

In the lead-up to the Nov. 15 civic election, the News Leader Pictorial is offering each candidate an opportunity to put their message out to the public in his or her own words.

Here you will find campaign material as it was submitted to us, including links to various websites.

Readers are encouraged to use the comments section to ask questions of their candidates in a respectful fashion and candidates are encouraged to respond using the same method.

Candidate material is posted as we receive it. Any candidate looking to submit material should email editor John McKinley at editor@cowichannewsleader.com, or phone 250-746-4471.

*****

My goals

A place where families stay.

I love it here.

I anticipate the mister and I won’t move away until we’re carted out in two pine boxes at the end of our lives. When our friends from Alberta come to visit, they love it here too, so much that they look at real estate and school options for their kids. Then, the inevitable question comes: “What would we do for work?”

North Cowichan has all the elements for the good life: farm fresh food, maturing vineyards, innovative small businesses, recreation in mountain biking, sailing, kayaking…the list goes on. But without full-time jobs with good salaries, it’s hard for families to settle here.

When my children are older, I want them to consider North Cowichan as their first-choice location to raise their families.

To make that happen, we need to:

Attract and retain companies with fulfilling and well-paid jobs so our youth and their parents no longer have to leave our community to find work. I will help to create an environment that removes barriers to success for new and existing businesses.Encourage good development. We have an official community plan (OCP) that dictates where development is possible. I will work with communities to finalize local area plans and adopt them into the OCP so areas for development are clearly identified, the environment is respected, and there are spaces where people of all generations can congregate at once.Make sure we’re getting value for our property taxes. I will review current spending before committing to status quo for another budget cycle.

My approach

I take a research-based approach to decision making. I consult and collaborate with community members to find a resolution people can live with.

I am accessible to residents. I can relay complex information in plain English so everyone can understand council matters and engage in the discussion at the right time.

We need a council that represents all citizens, including people like my peers and me: hard-working parents with kids in school and daycare who are non-partisan, and whose only agenda is to make North Cowichan a place where families can stay.

*****

About Me

Living the dream

Three children ago, the mister and I were driving north from Mill Bay through the Cowichan Valley on our way to the Crofton ferry. We got lost. One right-turn too early and we found ourselves in Maple Bay. I remember driving along Arbutus Avenue thinking how peaceful and romantic the whole place seemed. From our car we could look through the houses on the cliff to the ocean. What a dream.

Two kids later, we were looking for a place to settle and raise a family. We didn’t want a big city and we didn’t want traffic. We wanted neighbours who said hello, fresh air, and a place to walk.

The mister found a small cottage in Maple Bay for sale. Remembering that drive years earlier, I was sold on the idea, even after we found out the house needed a new septic system, had asbestos in the ceiling, and had sashless single-pane windows that needed replacing—for starters.

Maple Bay is living up to its idyllic image. We have neighbours who are like family, a community of friends whose children are the same age as ours, a rowing club, a restaurant, a pub, a beach we walk most nights and an ocean we swim in most summer days.

My work

In August 2009, I started Describe, a freelance communications business. I write, edit, and format technical and marketing communications for clients in the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver, and the UK.

I write a monthly column for the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, and I do the headline interview for their quarterly glossy magazine, Station. You can read my columns and Station interviews here.

Politics

In typical Generation-X form, I was unaware of politics until I was firmly settled into a house with a mortgage and kids to raise.

Since then, I’ve paid attention to the decisions our governments make, particularly local government. I’ve written about local and provincial politics in my News Leader column. I attend municipal council meetings in person or online to understand what is happening in our community. I watched with interest as the Chemainus Residents Association changed the course of history with their stand against Echo Heights. I saw parents successfully advocate for their kids’ skateboard park after years of waiting. I saw one woman change the course of the Stoney Hill discussion through her determination to make sure she was heard.

In all of those cases, I watched the council consider and deliberate over the variables they were presented with. None of these issues was or is easy to resolve. Through conversations with residents, by establishing a communications plan, research, and through consensus, they find their answer.

When I was approached by a few residents to run for council, I hesitated for a moment to consider how it would impact our family. With the mister’s full support and encouragement, I’m excited to take a turn on the other side of the council table, and to apply a collaborative approach to problem solving.

The early years

I was born and raised in northern Alberta to Irish parents who came over for a two-year teaching contract and never left.

I attended University of Alberta where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Arts, major in Psychology and a minor in French. I played five years as point guard for the University of Alberta Pandas basketball team, the last two years of which I was team captain.

Upon graduation, I taught English in Seoul, Korea, then travelled and worked in Australia, and toured Indonesia and Thailand. I moved on to England where I spent four years working in London for a management consulting firm specializing in human capital.

When I returned to Canada from the UK, I brought with me a souvenir: the mister. We lived in Victoria for a few years before finding our little home in Maple Bay, where we live today.

*****

To contact me, email: maeve@maevemaguire.com, phone: 250 597 3388 or visit http://maevemaguire.com/

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London Could Have a Floating 8-Mile-Long Pathway Designed Only For Bikes

All the car manufacturers are slowly turning their heads towards efficient motors, as electric cars become more and more popular. But Europe seems to be one step forward of everybody else, as the population riding bicycles increases every year. With bikers representing nearly 25% of rush-hour traffic in the central city, a group of architects has recently presented plans for a £600 million ($956 million) floating pathway designed only for bikes.

With a mayor that is quite the avid biker and with increasing traffic that is already choking the streets, London’s authorities have been considering several plans to encourage the two-wheel riders in the past years. River Cycleway Consortium, a team of architects, artists and engineers formed to promote the development of better cycling links in UK’s capital city, has recently presented their plan to reduce or even completely solve the problem.

The futuristic-looking bikeway would hug the south bank of the Thames river between Battersea and Canary Wharf, with the midpoint at Millennium Bridge. Designed for a 8 mile (12 km) stretch, the cycleway would run close to the south bank of the river- away from the main water navigation channel. According to its creators, the pathway would provide a car-free route that would make crossing the city a lot faster.

12,000 bikers would ride the floating bikeway per hour

From one end to the other, the journey would take half an our less than if the bikers with take the city streets instead. Architects claim the bikeway could accommodate over 12,000 bicycles per hour and it could be completed in as little as two years. According to BBC, the decway would feature access ramps and refreshment kiosks, as well as on-board sensors that, via satellite, would relay data to bikers about things such as traffic density and flow, as well as river and weather condition.

What could make for its most interesting feature, if you ask us, it’s that the bikeway would rise and fall with the Thames’s tides and solar, while tidal and wind energy would supply power for lighting and other needs. The almost $1 billion project is only one of the many ambitious projects who authorities in London are currently discussing in an effort to find the right solution to the city’s traffic problem.

London is going through a “cycling revolution”

Safe biking has become quite the problem, with the number of cycling casualties reportedly rising by 50% between 2006 and 2011. Besides the obvious environmental and air pollution issues, records claim London is also facing a continuous growth of population, expected to reach 12% in the next decade.

Besides the project in question, London’s mayor Boris Johnson, who is also an avid cyclist, is already pushing for a “cycling revolution” in the city. As we speak, a 21 miles (33 km) of bike paths that would be almost completely car-free is also in development.

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London mulls plans for a £600m floating bike path

Aimed at reducing the ever-present risk of bike-meets-lorry encounters on the city’s traffic-choked streets, the so-called Thames Deckway would hug the south bank of the river between Battersea and Canary Wharf, with the midpoint at Millennium Bridge. The sleek, futuristic-looking bikeway – think Blade Runner meets Waterworld – was trial-ballooned by the River Cycleway Consortium. The group’s leaders are British architect David Nixon and entrepreneur/artist Anna Hill, working in conjunction with design/engineering firm Arup (of Sydney Opera House fame) and Hugh Broughton Architects.

The team has yet to reveal design details about just how the bikeway would float and what materials would be used, but the project, which reportedly will be privately financed, is expected to cost an estimated £600m (about $965m). Proponents say a flat-rate toll of £1.50 per biker per journey will help finance maintenance expenses.

The Deckway would feature access ramps and refreshment kiosks, as well as on-board sensors that, via satellite, would relay data to bikers about things such as traffic density and flow, as well as river and weather conditions. The bikeway would rise and fall with the Thames’ tides, and solar, tidal and wind energy would supply power for lighting and other needs.

If approved, the bikeway – which would accommodate 12,000 bikers per hour and clip the time it takes to cross the city by 30 minutes – could be completed in as little as two years.

The proposal is the latest in a series of ambitious plans designed to make London – where population is expected to grow by 12% in the next decade – safer and easier to navigate by bike. Late last year, for example, British architect and ardent cycling proponent Sir Norman Foster (the founder of world-recognized Foster + Partners and the designer of the so-called Gherkin tower), along with landscape architects Exterior Architecture and urban planners Space Syntax, unveiled a proposal for SkyCycle, an elevated bike path.

This 220km-long (136-mile), three-storey-high network of car-free bike paths, punctuated by 200 access points, would follow existing urban rail lines. While a total cost wasn’t announced, a short four-mile-long first leg reportedly carries a price tag of £220m. But supporters say that’s cheaper than building more roads.

In addition, London mayor and avid cyclist Boris Johnson, who’s pushing for a “cycling revolution” in London, is championing development of the “Crossrail for bike” project: 21 miles of bike paths that would be almost completely segregated from motor traffic.

Cyclist in London

(Getty Images)

Safe biking is no idle matter in London, where bikers represent nearly 25% of rush-hour traffic in the central city. During a tragic, 13-day stretch in 2013, six bikers died on city roads. And between 2006 and 2011, the number of cycling casualties reportedly rose by 50%. Moreover, relative to motorists, cyclists in London account for a disproportionately high share of deaths and serious injuries.

The biggest obstacle to Londoners eventually enjoying a leisurely bike ride on the Thames is, of course, funding. Even though proponents of such projects point to numerous benefits, such as less pollution, a healthier populace, reduced traffic congestion, fewer biking injuries and decreased fossil-fuel consumption, the road to urban-biking Nirvana is littered with visionary projects that never got rolling.

Consider, for example, Toronto architect Chris Hardwicke’s Velo-City, in which cyclists would pedal through elevated glass tubes, or the $25m Veloway, a stalled proposal for an elevated bikeway in Melbourne, Australia, that would run alongside an urban rail line.

Other ideas have succeeded, though, such as the Hovenring, an elevated bike roundabout that hovers like a low-tech flying saucer in the Dutch university city of Eindhoven. Or the on-going development of 11 miles of bike-only “superhighways” in bicycle-happy Copenhagen, the unofficial biking capital of Europe, where 50% of residents commute by bike and bicycles outnumber residents.

Could the Deckway help London realise Johnson’s ambitions and wrest away the title of bike capital of Europe? Only time will tell if the idea sinks or swims.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Autos, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

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LYME: Astonishing display of ‘we-know-best’ arrogance

15th October 2014

COUNCIL SKETCH

By Geoff Baker

REMEMBER these names: Mark Gage, Lorna Jenkin, Chris Clipson, Lucy Campbell, Rikey Austin and Terry O’Grady.

 

They are the town councillors to hold to account when someone is knocked down on Marine Parade by a cyclist or skateboarder. These are the councillors who – without any consultation with residents – last week voted through a new policy to allow bikers and boarders on the parade for the first time in 40 years.

In an astonishing display of “we-know-best” arrogance, The Gage Gang (and there is no point in pussy-footing around this anymore, that’s exactly what they are as they all stick together more stubbornly than toffees in the pocket of an old raincoat) pushed through the move to allow bikes and boards.

Last week I talked to many residents about this decision – every one of them was horrified. They were alarmed because it should be obvious to even the greatest simpleton that bikes and boards on the parade will be dangerous. And given that the majority of Lyme’s population is elderly, residents are frightened for their safety.

Let us get this straight. The principal attraction of the parade for locals and visitors is that we can walk freely and safely on it; that is its purpose and that has always been its purpose. That is why people visit Lyme, so that they can enjoy the magnificence of the seascape in relaxed safety.

The purpose of the parade is not to provide a cut-through for cyclists who are too bone idle to get off and walk their bikes along the short bit of the Cart Road where cycling would cause a hazard to those sitting in front of their beach huts. 

What especially concerns me about this decision is this, who asked for it? Have there been dozens of letters in the local press from the bikers of Britain asking to ride on the front? No, there have not. Has there been any sort of local campaign or petition for such a thing? No, there has not.

So who on earth do these councillors think that they are representing with this move to persecute Lyme’s tradition with the simplistic thinking of their reforms? Kids? They’re getting a £150,000 skatepark. Visitors? It’s not their shout. 

This isn’t democracy, this isn’t representing the majority view of the town. This is power gone mad. The town does not want it, but these six councillors do.

I have said it before and I shall reiterate the point now to these six as it appears to consistently elude them – you are the town’s council, we are not the council’s town. And if you want to continue in local politics, if I was you, I would bear that keenly in mind. 

I am not anti-skateboarding; my son has been a skateboarder for most of his life and I encouraged it. His friends have all been skateboarders and I’ve always been impressed by their skills on the boards. Last year, my little Lyme event, Guitars On The Beach, donated £900 towards the cost of building the skatepark.

As a kid growing up in Lyme, I cycled everywhere and would have cycled on the parade if I could have got away with it; of course I would, I was a kid.  

But the overlooked consequence of the reform by The Gage Gang is that Lyme kids will get a hard time for their actions. The kids will get abuse from some of the pedestrians – the elderly, parents of young children – who will feel endangered. 

And they will feel endangered. Already, some elderly residents are most anxious over the prospect of getting knocked over when they unintentionally turn into the path of a cyclist who, if you’re old and somewhat deaf, you will not hear coming up behind you. 

I already know of one resident who has walked along the parade to the Cobb everyday of her retired life but who is now so worried about getting hit by a bike that she is saying she won’t be walking on the parade next summer. If you are old and you get knocked down you can easily break a hip. Old people die of breaking a hip, look at the recent tragic example of Bet Turner.

It is not fair on the kids who of course will cycle and board up the parade now that it is going to be permitted. It is not right, in fact it is scandalous, to put them in a position of getting a hard time for alarming pedestrians when the ones who should be given a hard time in the inevitable event of collisions are the architects of this extremely unpopular move. 

If these six councillors want biking and boarding on the parade then I want to see them down on the front everyday throughout the summer – when the confusion caused by biking will be chaos – each wearing a badge saying “This Is My Great Idea” and each prepared to take the flak from visitors and residents who want no such thing. 

If they are prepared to make this major change to the way of the town from the sanctified comfort of council meetings, they should be brave and decent enough to face the public on the front and defend it – and not leave that unenviable role to the enforcement officers who will be powerless to stop racing bikes.   

Sally Holman, Stan Williams, Cheryl Reynolds, Owen Lovell and George Symonds all opposed this change in the bylaw at the council meeting, as they would because they have lived in Lyme long enough to know that it is a bad idea. But The Gang Of Gage, relative incomers with the exception of Lorna Jenkin and Lucy Campbell, know better.

It gets worse. Anita Williams – deputy mayor, a solicitor and possibly the smartest mind on the town council – could not be at last week’s full council meeting because she had undergone emergency tooth surgery. So Anita sent a statement to be read to the meeting to represent her informed local view and to plead for consultation with the town first and for “more sophisticated thinking”.

Outrageously, Councillor Gage stood up and made a speech saying that Anita’s statement should not be read out! He said that if councillors wanted to express their views then they should be present at council meetings. She’d just had surgery, for God’s sake!

It is not democracy to try to gag the views of elected members. That is not the encouragement of the right to free speech for which Lyme has a history of fighting, trying to gag opponents smacks of Stalinism. 

It is fortunate that Councillor Gage was over-ruled in his bid to silence Anita by the mayor’s acute sense of fairness, but it is the fact that he attempted to suppress a view because it was opposite to his own opinion which is very telling. 

I am fully aware that Councillor Gage may be furious that I am exposing him like this and I do not give a tinker’s cuss, because one of the roles of a newspaper in any democracy, local or national, is to represent the public by calling into question the unpopular actions of the authorities. 

So I am now calling Councillor Gage into question; I want to know why he thinks that he can throw around his weight to try stop an informed, intelligent and wise member of one of Lyme’s oldest council families from having her say on a matter on which the electorate has not been consulted, when all she was doing was calling for such consultation.

He’s an odd fish, this former councillor of the London borough of Hillingdon. As an atheist he sits outside council meetings during prayers but he attended a church service to commemorate D-Day. He says he has a “healthy distrust” of politicians but has been one for more than 10 years. He says he’d like to be remembered as “someone who smiled a lot” when all I see him do is glare, and he says he moved to Lyme because he had “really fallen in love with it” and then he wants to change it.

He also brags on his Twitter page that he is “a hater of all things royalist and Tory” when he represents a town that is predominantly royalist and Tory, and he is a leading local light in the RNLI, the “R” bit of which does not stand for Red. 

When Councillor Gage and his gang were running for election some years back, I don’t recall that their shared election manifesto declared that Mr Gage was a hater of Tories and people who support the Queen. I wonder if he would have been elected in a Conservative, royal town if it did? I wonder, now that the people of Lyme Regis know that he “hates” so many of them for their beliefs, if he will be re-elected next May? Perhaps he may be told, “on your bike”.

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School Sport: Students inspired at Olympic Park


Coopers pupils enjoyed the VeloPark experience

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

11:16 AM

Coopers and Upminster pupils attend sporting festival

Upminster Junior School pupils played at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre schools festival

Pupils from Coopers Company and Coborn and Upminster Junior schools were part of the first group of more than 700 schoolchildren to enjoy exclusive access to expert coaching at London 2012 legacy venues, Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, which hosted their first schools festivals.

The four-day event began at both venues on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park giving students the chance to take part in cycling, tennis and hockey for free. Students were invited from over 100 primary and secondary schools from every London borough, plus all districts in Hertfordshire and Essex.

The event was hosted by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority which owns and runs both venues, and is part of a long standing programme giving schoolchildren across the capital and further afield opportunities to enjoy sport for free in inspirational surroundings.

Coopers students had coached sessions at Lee Valley VeloPark which is the only venue in the world where the public can take part in the four Olympic and Paralympic cycling disciplines in one place: track in the iconic London 2012 velodrome, BMX on the remodelled Olympic track, road cycling on the one-mile road circuit and mountain biking on five miles of mountain bike trails.

Coopers pupils tried out the Olympic cycling track

Charlie Richards, a coach at Coopers, said: “We brought these children here as a reward because they cycle to school each day, and they’ve put in the most mileage.

“It’s calculated by the site manager who also runs a cycling club each morning. His reward was for these students to come and try out the facilities here. They’re made up to be here. You could see it in their demeanour when they walked into the venue. It’s got the wow factor!”

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, where the wheelchair tennis took place during the Paralympic Games, is open to everyone with six external and four internal tennis courts alongside two international standard hockey pitches.

Upminster Junior School pupils in years three and four (seven to nine years old) enjoyed expert coaching in Quicksticks – a fun four-a-side taster for hockey, and Mini Tennis – a perfect introduction to the basics of the sport.

Shaun Dawson, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority chief executive, said: “This inaugural Schools Festival at Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre has been a fantastic success so far.

“This is a perfect example of London 2012 delivering on its legacy promise to ‘inspire a generation’, with hundreds of children coming to enjoy these iconic venues.

“The schools festival has run for four years at Lee Valley White Water Centre, and has already given 2000 children the chance to try rafting where Team GB triumphed in 2012. We hope the young people participating will be inspired to take up some of the sports we have available at these phenomenal centres.”

The Schools Festival continues at Lee Valley VeloPark on 20-21 October. For more information go to visitleevalley.org.uk.

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    Live life safer with UBCO technology

    Safer dirt biking

    Safer dirt biking

    UBC PhD student Colin Wallace (left) tries on a dirt biking shirt equipped with Armourgel impact-absorbing pads. UBC’s Paul van Donkelaar (middle) and Armourgel inventor Dan Plant from Imperial College London are collaborating on a new, concussion-reducing sports helmet using this novel new material. 

    Armourgel

    Armourgel

    Light, flexible and impact-absorbing Armourgel is being studied at UBC Okanagan’s new Survive and Thrive Applied Research facility for use in helmets designed to reduce sports-related concussions.



    Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 8:35 pm

    Live life safer with UBCO technology

    Daily Courier Staff

    Kelownadailycourier.ca

    |
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    UBC has launched a new research innovation facility where industry and university researchers can pool their knowledge to develop novel technologies for

    human protection, survivability and performance in extreme or remote conditions.

    On Tuesday, Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced funding of $3.8 million to establish the Survive and Thrive Applied Research (STAR) facility at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

    STAR combines world-class research expertise and global partner networks to help commercialize innovative products and develop ideas that can be applied in a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, natural resources, health care and defence.

    One of the first STAR projects is a collaboration involving UBC, Kelowna-based Helios Global Technologies and Imperial College London (U.K.) to develop a high-tech helmet that can reduce the risk of concussion in contact sports such as hockey and football.

    “Collaboration with STAR greatly enhances our capacity to develop innovative products,” said Helios CEO Martin Cronin.

    “It gives us access to world-class research that helps us to quickly prove out concepts and explore multi-sectoral applications, and also access to funding through our research partnerships.”

    STAR partnerships create important opportunities for university researchers and their students, said Professor Paul van Donkelaar, director of UBC’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences and principal investigator with the UBC Sports Concussion Research Lab.

    “We’re working on compelling projects directly related to our primary research, and which also create new ideas for future research and real-world learning opportunities for students,” said van Donkelaar.

    The STAR partnership with Imperial College London has led to a new collaboration accord which will include student and faculty exchanges between institutions.

    “British Columbia, Canada and the U.K. have remarkable strengths in advanced engineering and innovative technologies, so it is even more remarkable when they bring these shared strengths together,” said Howard Drake, British High Commissioner to Canada. “This facility, along with a broader collaboration between the partners on student and academic exchanges, will advance a range of exciting real-world solutions to help the security industry. I wish everyone involved all the best for what promises to be an exciting future.î

    Other STAR initiatives include development of sensors for autonomous aerial vehicles (UAVs) for use in the forestry and agriculture, and personal wireless stop-button technology for workers using large industrial machinery.

    Learn more about the STAR facility at star.ubc.ca.

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    Tuesday, October 14, 2014 8:35 pm.

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    Herefordshire & Worcestershire Sports Awards 2014 – Sports Personality of

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    Beth Crumpton (centre) with her friends at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. (s)

    THERE are five worthy candidates for our top category this week – Sports Personality of the Year sponsored by Bullivant Media – and their fate lies in your hands. All our contenders have had a sporting year to be proud of. They have all delivered ‘on the pitch’ and have all represented their sports – and the two counties – with dignity and style. Read our profiles and make your decision. Your online votes will decide who gets to pick up the trophy on the awards night at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways home on November 4. To vote visit www.morethansport.com and see the voting panel on the left hand side. One vote per person.

    Beth Crumpton

    REDDITCH cycling star Beth Crumpton has enjoyed a highly successful 2014, announcing herself on the Commonwealth and world stages in cross country mountain biking, writes Liam Moakes.

    Having already retained her title as British national U23 champion in a one-off event, Crumpton headed to Glasgow to compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and against a much more experienced field she performed superbly to finish in ninth place in the women’s cross country mountain biking event.

    Not content with that impressive feat, the closing stages of the year saw 20-year-old Crumpton in action on the world stage as she returned to World Cup action in both America and France, whilst sandwiched in between was the British National Series finale at Cannock, where victory in the fifth and final race saw the Redditch ace secure the overall title.

    This accolade was of particular delight to Crumpton, who said: “To have won the Elite/U23 combined National Series as an U23 rider in only my second year is a major achievement and I am very proud of that.

    “It was a goal of mine at the start of the year to win the National Series crown and, coming off the back of finishing in the top ten in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, it capped an excellent summer.”

    The final World Cup of the year took place in France where Crumpton came agonisingly close to achieving another season goal of hers – to claim a top five finish in a World Cup race.

    “I was riding fifth all the way but suffered a puncture on the last lap and ended up finishing seventh, but this was still an excellent result for me and proved a lot to me about my ability to compete with the best at an U23 World Cup,” added Crumpton.

    “It was a really tough course as well and there’s so many positives I can take from that.”

    The season continued with the World Championships in Norway where more bad luck struck Crumpton, who was taken out by a German competitor early in the race, leaving her to play catch-up to eventually claim a 17th placed finish.

    Crumpton said: “I was very grumpy after that race! I had high hopes of a top ten result at least and that early collision basically finished that race for me, but that’s the nature of this sport and you just have to pick yourself up and go again – quite literally!

    “It all adds to my experience and I always try and take the positives from any situation, however hard it may seem at the time.”

    Crumpton was then back in action in Europe when she headed to Germany to conclude her season with a very pleasing tenth place at the Bundesliga Cup in Bad Salzdetfurth amongst a classy field of Elite World Cup standard level riders.

    Crumpton revealed after her Commonwealth Games experience at Cathkin Braes that she had realistic hopes of clinching a place in the Great Britain squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and, provided GB can first qualify a place or two, then her experiences and successes of 2014 could go a long way towards helping her book her place on the plane to Brazil.

    This week Crumpton was reinducted on to the British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme in preparation for 2015, when she will continue to put both Redditch and Worcestershire on the global sporting map.

    Chris Pennell

    FROM the highs of making his England debut to the lows of seeing his beloved Worcester Warriors fail to avoid the drop, Chris Pennell has had what he described as a rollercoaster 2014, writes Geoff Berkeley.

    But, for all the ups and downs for club and country, his performances remained on a consistently high level. The 27-year-old played every minute of Warriors’ Aviva Premiership campaign and hardly put a foot wrong. At times it felt like he was on a one-man mission to keep Worcester afloat as he made countless yards, numerous try-saving tackles and even went from being a part-time goal-kicker to having Warriors’ most reliable boot.

    Despite all his heroics, though, Worcester’s relegation was confirmed on Saturday, May 3 after Saracens condemned his team to a 20th defeat of the season, which was a hammer blow for the full back.

    “It was heart-breaking,” said Pennell. “To put so much effort in every week and to not be rewarded is tough to take.

    “But ultimately that is professional rugby. You have to get your head around it pretty quickly and focus on what is next.”

    And his next challenge came sooner than most of his Warriors team-mates as he was named in England’s touring party to New Zealand. Although it did not go well for Stuart Lancaster’s men as the All Blacks won the series 3-0, Pennell had the time of his life.

    The Sixways star made his debut when he came on in the final minute of England’s first Test before rounding off a superb individual display with a try in a non-cap match against the Crusaders.

    “It was an incredible environment to be a part of and I feel massively privileged to have been there,” he said.

    “I learnt a huge amount and I now know that I am good enough to compete at that level. Also, now I have had a taste, I have got a real desire and hunger to get more of it.”

    With dreams of making next year’s World Cup squad now at the forefront of his mind, it would have been easy for Pennell to find himself a new club, which offered top flight rugby.

    But, instead, the former Worcester academy ace decided to stay put and help Warriors achieve their long-term ambitions.

    “I am confident that, four or five years from now, we will be right up there competing with the top sides in Europe and that is certainly something which I want to be a part of,” he said.

    Even if he does realise those hopes in the future, Pennell believes the topsy-turvy nature of 2014 will still be difficult to beat.

    “It has definitely been a rollercoaster year,” he added. “To finish it on such a high certainly helped soften the blow of relegation, which was a huge disappointment.

    “To go on tour with England was massive, but to actually get my first cap meant the world to me, so it has been a strange year and one that I will always remember.”

    Claire Cashmore

    EXCELLENT progress has been made this year by one talented Paralympian swimmer who is striving to finish her sporting career on an ultimate high, writes Nigel Slater.

    Redditch-born Claire Cashmore continues to excel in her sport after enjoying a successful but hard-working schedule in 2014.

    The talented athlete, who has done her nation proud competing in three Paralympic Games for Team GB, is currently putting in the hard yards at an altitude training camp in France, getting set for what is expected to be a vital 2015 as she increases her preparations to win gold in the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

    And Cashmore, who was born without a left forearm, saw her preparations given a major boost recently when she triumphed in this year’s IPC Swimming European Championship.

    Cashmore had a championship to remember in the Dutch city of Eindhoven by winning two gold medals – one in the 100m breaststroke and the other in the 4x100m medley relay.

    The achievement was a stunning one for Cashmore, especially after showing on such a global stage she could compete against Russian arch-rival Olesya Vladykina, who since 2008 has been crowned the Paralympic World and European Champion.

    Cashmore raced her all the way in Eindhoven and for the first time almost beat her to gold. An impressive outright victory may have been possible if the pool had been a few feet longer, but instead they touched the wall at exactly the same time, so both won a gold medal each.

    “I really wish I was just that tiny bit faster,” she said after her memorable performance.

    Pushing Vladykina so close has inspired Cashmore for their next race at the World Championship next July and ultimately when Rio gets the honour of hosting the Palaympic Games.

    The European Championships also saw Cashmore triumph in the medley relay race, with the British team falling just fractions short of beating their world record set in Montreal last year.

    Cashmore can certainly consider 2014 a good year following her previous achievements, most notably in London 2012 when she won silver medals in the S8 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley race and a bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay – spurred on by her home crowd.

    Cashmore also won bronze medals in previous Paraylmpic Games in Athens – at just 16-years-old – and Beijing in 2008.

    Away from the pool, Cashmore spends her time as an ambassador for disability sport and regularly gives motivational talks to children and adults as part of her roles with the Youth Sport Trust and the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

    She said: “I am very passionate about sport, it gave me confidence during my self-conscious teenage years and I welcome the opportunity to help others get involved in physical activity.

    “I hope that by revisiting the challenges and barriers I had to overcome to succeed in sport I will inspire young people of any ability to realise that, they too, can enjoy the benefits of sport.”

    Moeen Ali

    FROM unfulfilled talent to the name on everyone’s lips in little over 12 months, 2014 has certainly been a year to remember for Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen Ali, writes Gary Smee.

    After a string of sensational performances with both bat and ball for club and country, the 27-year-old has even earned his own nickname – The Beard That’s Feared – a motto that is now scattered on T-shirts in grounds up and down the country.

    Birmingham-born Ali was destined for great things at a young age. His potential as an explosive batsman was first shown in an U19s Test for England against Sri Lanka in 2005 when he smashed a 56-ball century and before that he blasted an unbeaten 195 in a 20-over game for his U15 club side Moseley Ashfield.

    However, after moving from Warwickshire to Worcestershire in 2007, finding his feet in country cricket did not always prove to be an easy task for Moeen as his class with the bat was only seen in spurts and his off-spin only occasionally called upon.

    The 2010 campaign could be defined as Ali’s breakthrough season when he made 1,270 runs at an average of almost 50 in the Championship and there were some on the county circuit who thought higher honours could await.

    However, with Worcestershire suffering a couple of tough seasons in Division One, Moeen also found the going difficult despite offering his first real return with the ball in 2012 as he took 33 wickets at less than 30 apiece.

    But his 2013 campaign put him firmly back in the forefront of the England selectors’ minds with the bat.

    The left-hander racked up 1,375 runs at an average of 62.5 and, despite a number of critics saying good county form does not guarantee an England call-up, Ali’s statistics were too impressive to ignore and he was drafted into the squad for the One-Day tour of the West Indies in February this year.

    Starting with scores of 44, 10 and 55 in the Caribbean, Ali was praised for his transition into the international fold, but a difficult World T20 Cup in Bangladesh followed and, by this summer’s Test series against India, question marks were beginning to surface about Ali’s place in the side – especially whether or not his off-spin was good enough at Test level.

    However, those questions were put to bed in Southampton, as Ali took 6-67 to spin his side to success and level the series before his 4-39 helped England to victory in Manchester in the very next Test.

    An unbeaten century earlier in the summer against Sri Lanka also showed Moeen had international qualities with the bat – although he will surely be looking to build on an early average of 31.77 in 2015.

    Well spoken and polite off the field, there is certainly nothing to be ‘feared’ about Moeen Ali, but it is in the middle where he has earned his reputation to become one of the most recognised sportsmen in the country in 2014.

    Sascha Kindred OBE

    IN A SWIMMING career which has spanned two decades and produced 59 medals, Sascha Kindred OBE admits he still gets the same buzz now as he did in 1994, writes Jonny Bonell.

    “I’m still learning,” he said. “Even though I have been doing it for so long I’m still learning, I’m still experimenting and I’m still trying to get quicker.

    “I’ve still got the hunger for getting PBs (personal bests) and trying to win medals.

    “Obviously there’s some mornings when the alarm goes off and you want to roll over and not get up, but I still really enjoy it and I have a lot of people around me supporting me.”

    The Paralympian, who lives in Hereford and trains in Leominster, first took to the pool when he was just 11 and within four years he had made his competitive debut by representing the nation at Malta’s World Championships.

    Kindred went on to scoop bronze in the 100m SB7 breaststroke.

    From there the 36-year-old has gone from strength to strength, dominating in breaststroke and individual medley in major championships all over the world.

    With a total of six Paralympic gold medals, ten World Championship golds, 14 European golds and a host of records broken along the way, Kindred has truly cemented himself as one of Great Britain’s finest Paralympic swimmers.

    And he shows no signs of letting up. The past year has seen Kindred, who suffers with cerebral palsy which effects the right side of his body, reach new heights yet again.

    Kindred broke his own personal best and even a European record in Eindhoven in the 200m SM6 individual medley on the way to winning a further three golds, two silvers and a bronze to add to the every-growing medal tally.

    “With the Europeans, I was shocked by what I was doing,” he said. “I had injury problems leading up to it and to go into the Europeans and swim the way I did wasn’t expected.

    “Six races, six medals, it’s not a bad week’s work.

    “I’m one of the oldest swimmers on the team and to keep breaking personal bests shows I’m doing something right in training.

    “I suppose I’m wiser so I know how to deal with the pressure and a lot of the swimmers look up to what I’m doing, so it’s a case of me trying to be focused and trying to stay ahead.”

    Looking ahead to life out of the pool, Kindred, who received his OBE in 2009, admitted if he was lucky enough to make the Rio de Janeiro 2016 team he was “99 per cent sure” he would retire on the back of that.

    “When I set out to try and be good at swimming I never thought I would make a Paralympics, let alone do 20 years and go to five Paralympics,” he added.

    “I just pinch myself sometimes that I’ve had such a great career and it’s still continuing at the moment.

    “I’d like to be involved in sport in some way (after retiring) and try and inspire the next generation to give something back to what I have loved doing over my life.”

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    Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen Ali became one of the country’s most recognised sportsmen in 2014. Picture by Ian Smith.

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    Sascha Kindred OBE with his silver medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (s)

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    Swimmer Claire Cashmore (centre) is hoping for ultimate glory in Rio 2016. Picture by Marcus Mingins. 4612001MMR.

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    Full back Chris Pennell made his England debut in the summer. Picture by Ian Smith.

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    Alex Zanardi completes Ironman

    Former F1 driver Alex Zanardi added another feat to his inspirational story at the weekend after he finished just outside the top 10% at the Ironman World Championship using just the power of his arms.

    Zanardi lost both his legs and nearly his life in a horrific 2001 CART crash but has remained active in sport since, winning Paralympic gold at London 2012 in handcycling. The Italian, attempting his first-ever triathalon event, completed the famous Kailua-Kona event in Hawaii on October 11, 272nd out of 2,187 finishers.

    The Kona event consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run. Zanardi utilised a wet vest which kept his body floating for the swimming portion, before he took to a self-developed handcycle to finish the biking segment. The Ironman was completed on an Olympic wheelchair, crossing the line in nine hours, 47 minutes and 14 seconds.

    “It is fantastic and I will treasure this day in my heart for the rest of my life,” Zanardi said. “The last 300 meters were worth everything, they were worth being here for. I don’t know if everybody got cheered the same way, but when I passed down that narrow lane, I have never experienced anything like that. It was amazing. I was always close to crying. I am not an emotional guy for these types of things, but this was very special.”

    Zanardi drove for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus between 1991 and 1994 before an unsuccessful comeback with Williams in 1999. He had greater success in America, winning the CART championship in 1997 and 1998. Since his accident he has competed in the World Touring Car Championship for BMW in a specially-modified car.

    © ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


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    A healthy dose of IR: Meet the new head of investor relations at AstraZeneca

    Biopharma giant names former Roche head of IR in North America to lead seven-strong team 

    Thomas Kudsk Larsen, who has joined London-headquartered biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca after almost a decade at rival Roche, talks about upcoming challenges, improving the company’s IR Magazine Euro Top 100 ranking, and what he likes best about IR.

    What challenges do you anticipate for the AstraZeneca IR team over the coming 12 months?
    We are a company undergoing an exciting transformation into a science-based biopharmaceutical leader, with a clear focus on patients and new medicines. Our challenge in the IR team is to bridge this transition and keep investors and analysts fully updated on the progress with the business and the pipeline of new medicines.

    AstraZeneca has not generally fared well in the IR Magazine Euro Top 100 (most recently ranking at joint 195th). What do you think the IR team needs to do to improve this score?
    There are many ways to measure IR performance and the IR Magazine Euro Top 100 is an important one. Over the coming months, our team will seek to understand more about past results and see how we can improve in the future. We will definitely try to get higher up the list next time and, given the progress in the business, I think this is do-able.

    How will your experience at Roche benefit you at AstraZeneca?
    I had more than nine wonderful years as head of investor relations in North America for Roche and worked out of New Jersey and Switzerland, as well as at Genentech in San Francisco. I learned a tremendous amount from my time in Roche’s IR team about the medicine business and specifically about biotechnology and cancer medicines.

    As AstraZeneca is progressing into a very interesting pipeline of next-generation cancer and other medicines, I can directly apply that to my new job. Furthermore, most of the investor and analyst contacts are the same at both the sell-side and buy-side companies, so it’s familiar faces all around.

    In your experience, what do investors in healthcare companies care about most when it comes to IR?
    A large part of the valuation of a biopharmaceutical company relates to what we call the pipeline: the new medicines undergoing testing before approval. Compared with a company in another sector, such as [enzyme-focused industrial biotechnology firm] Novozymes, where I did IR from 2001 to 2005, the news flow about the medicine pipeline is really important. Financials and quarterly results are always important, but in biopharma the pipeline news flow really sets the industry apart.

    How would you describe your approach to IR in three words?
    Curiosity, underpromise, overdeliver.

    How is the AstraZeneca IR team made up?
    We are a team of seven people right now and based only in the UK. A couple of our good colleagues are leaving us for internal promotions and emigrating to Australia. We are also looking to re-establish a presence in the US. One challenge I look forward to is making sure a job in IR is an exciting step in a career – on a rotational basis, for instance.

    Where will you be traveling to in the coming year?
    I plan to meet all our current shareholders with the team, wherever they are. Shareholders own our company and deserve our full attention. I already took a quick trip to the US in my second week of employment, but London, continental Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America are also on the schedule. When I worked at Roche, we expanded our IR activities into Brazil and Chile, and had a very good response.

    What’s your favorite thing about doing IR? And your least favorite?
    There is so much to learn in IR and so many people to interact with, and there is always more you can do. This is also the downside: you never get to really rest before you are into a new project. Sometimes I would like a little more time with the team to think and make strategic plans for our IR program and company.

    How did you get into IR?
    I worked in finance at Novo Nordisk and was project manager for a part of the de-merger in 2000 of Novozymes from Novo Nordisk. I was in contact with senior management, communications people and bankers, and found it a very interesting job. When I came home to Denmark from a one-year spell at Novo Nordisk in Tokyo in 2001, there was an open IR position at Novozymes working for Michael Steen-Knudsen, who was the top-ranked Danish IR person. I thought this would be a great chance to learn, and Michael and I still keep in contact today.

    What do you like to do outside work?
    Family time with my wife Snežana, daughters Natasha and Vanessa, parents, brothers and other family. And some time with my Cannondale road bicycle, too. I started biking during my childhood with my father, and it’s great to go out on the weekend to get exercise and fresh air and enjoy the countryside.

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    Vote now for county Sports Personality of the Year

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    Beth Crumpton (centre) with her friends at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. (s)

    THERE are five worthy candidates for our top category this week – Sports Personality of the Year sponsored by Bullivant Media – and their fate lies in your hands. All our contenders have had a sporting year to be proud of. They have all delivered ‘on the pitch’ and have all represented their sports – and the two counties – with dignity and style. Read our profiles and make your decision. Your online votes will decide who gets to pick up the trophy on the awards night at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways home on November 4. To vote visit www.morethansport.com and see the voting panel on the left hand side. One vote per person.

    Beth Crumpton

    REDDITCH cycling star Beth Crumpton has enjoyed a highly successful 2014, announcing herself on the Commonwealth and world stages in cross country mountain biking, writes Liam Moakes.

    Having already retained her title as British national U23 champion in a one-off event, Crumpton headed to Glasgow to compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and against a much more experienced field she performed superbly to finish in ninth place in the women’s cross country mountain biking event.

    Not content with that impressive feat, the closing stages of the year saw 20-year-old Crumpton in action on the world stage as she returned to World Cup action in both America and France, whilst sandwiched in between was the British National Series finale at Cannock, where victory in the fifth and final race saw the Redditch ace secure the overall title.

    This accolade was of particular delight to Crumpton, who said: “To have won the Elite/U23 combined National Series as an U23 rider in only my second year is a major achievement and I am very proud of that.

    “It was a goal of mine at the start of the year to win the National Series crown and, coming off the back of finishing in the top ten in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, it capped an excellent summer.”

    The final World Cup of the year took place in France where Crumpton came agonisingly close to achieving another season goal of hers –

    to claim a top five finish in a World Cup race.

    “I was riding fifth all the way but suffered a puncture on the last lap and ended up finishing seventh, but this was still an excellent result for me and proved a lot to me about my ability to compete with the best at an U23 World Cup,” added Crumpton.

    “It was a really tough course as well and there’s so many positives I can take from that.”

    The season continued with the World Championships in Norway where more bad luck struck Crumpton, who was taken out by a German competitor early in the race, leaving her to play catch-up to eventually claim a 17th placed finish.

    Crumpton said: “I was very grumpy after that race! I had high hopes of a top ten result at least and that early collision basically finished that race for me, but that’s the nature of this sport and you just have to pick yourself up and go again – quite literally!

    “It all adds to my experience and I always try and take the positives from any situation, however hard it may seem at the time.”

    Crumpton was then back in action in Europe when she headed to Germany to conclude her season with a very pleasing tenth place at the Bundesliga Cup in Bad Salzdetfurth amongst a classy field of Elite World Cup standard level riders.

    Crumpton revealed after her Commonwealth Games experience at Cathkin Braes that she had realistic hopes of clinching a place in the Great Britain squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and, provided GB can first qualify a place or two, then her experiences and successes of 2014 could go a long way towards helping her book her place on the plane to Brazil.

    This week Crumpton was reinducted on to the British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme in preparation for 2015, when she will continue to put both Redditch and Worcestershire on the global sporting map.

    Chris Pennell

    FROM the highs of making his England debut to the lows of seeing his beloved Worcester Warriors fail to avoid the drop, Chris Pennell has had what he described as a rollercoaster 2014, writes Geoff Berkeley.

    But, for all the ups and downs for club and country, his performances remained on a consistently high level. The 27-year-old played every minute of Warriors’ Aviva Premiership campaign and hardly put a foot wrong. At times it felt like he was on a one-man mission to keep Worcester afloat as he made countless yards, numerous try-saving tackles and even went from being a part-time goal-kicker to having Warriors’ most reliable boot.

    Despite all his heroics, though, Worcester’s relegation was confirmed on Saturday, May 3 after Saracens condemned his team to a 20th defeat of the season, which was a hammer blow for the full back.

    “It was heart-breaking,” said Pennell. “To put so much effort in every week and to not be rewarded is tough to take.

    “But ultimately that is professional rugby. You have to get your head around it pretty quickly and focus on what is next.”

    And his next challenge came sooner than most of his Warriors team-mates as he was named in England’s touring party to New Zealand.

    Although it did not go well for Stuart Lancaster’s men as the All Blacks won the series 3-0, Pennell had the time of his life.

    The Sixways star made his debut when he came on in the final minute of England’s first Test before rounding off a superb individual display with a try in a non-cap match against the Crusaders.

    “It was an incredible environment to be a part of and I feel massively privileged to have been there,” he said.

    “I learnt a huge amount and I now know that I am good enough to compete at that level. Also, now I have had a taste, I have got a real desire and hunger to get more of it.”

    With dreams of making next year’s World Cup squad now at the forefront of his mind, it would have been easy for Pennell to find himself a new club, which offered top flight rugby.

    But, instead, the former Worcester academy ace decided to stay put and help Warriors achieve their long-term ambitions.

    “I am confident that, four or five years from now, we will be right up there competing with the top sides in Europe and that is certainly something which I want to be a part of,” he said.

    Even if he does realise those hopes in the future, Pennell believes the topsy-turvy nature of 2014 will still be difficult to beat.

    “It has definitely been a rollercoaster year,” he added. “To finish it on such a high certainly helped soften the blow of relegation, which was a huge disappointment.

    “To go on tour with England was massive, but to actually get my first cap meant the world to me, so it has been a strange year and one that I will always remember.”

    Claire Cashmore

    EXCELLENT progress has been made this year by one talented Paralympian swimmer who is striving to finish her sporting career on an ultimate high, writes Nigel Slater.

    Redditch-born Claire Cashmore continues to excel in her sport after enjoying a successful but hard-working schedule in 2014.

    The talented athlete, who has done her nation proud competing in three Paralympic Games for Team GB, is currently putting in the hard yards at an altitude training camp in France, getting set for what is expected to be a vital 2015 as she increases her preparations to win gold in the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

    And Cashmore, who was born without a left forearm, saw her preparations given a major boost recently when she triumphed in this year’s IPC Swimming European Championship.

    Cashmore had a championship to remember in the Dutch city of Eindhoven by winning two gold medals – one in the 100m breaststroke and the other in the 4x100m medley relay.

    The achievement was a stunning one for Cashmore, especially after showing on such a global stage she could compete against Russian arch-rival Olesya Vladykina, who since 2008 has been crowned the Paralympic World and European Champion.

    Cashmore raced her all the way in Eindhoven and for the first time almost beat her to gold. An impressive outright victory may have been possible if the pool had been a few feet longer, but instead they touched the wall at exactly the same time, so both won a gold medal each.

    “I really wish I was just that tiny bit faster,” she said after her memorable performance.

    Pushing Vladykina so close has inspired Cashmore for their next race at the World Championship next July and ultimately when Rio gets the honour of hosting the Palaympic Games.

    The European Championships also saw Cashmore triumph in the medley relay race, with the British team falling just fractions short of beating their world record set in Montreal last year.

    Cashmore can certainly consider 2014 a good year following her previous achievements, most notably in London 2012 when she won silver medals in the S8 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley race and a bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay – spurred on by her home crowd.

    Cashmore also won bronze medals in previous Paraylmpic Games in Athens – at just 16-years-old – and Beijing in 2008.

    Away from the pool, Cashmore spends her time as an ambassador for disability sport and regularly gives motivational talks to children and adults as part of her roles with the Youth Sport Trust and the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

    She said: “I am very passionate about sport, it gave me confidence during my self-conscious teenage years and I welcome the opportunity to help others get involved in physical activity.

    “I hope that by revisiting the challenges and barriers I had to overcome to succeed in sport I will inspire young people of any ability to realise that, they too, can enjoy the benefits of sport.”

    Moeen Ali

    FROM unfulfilled talent to the name on everyone’s lips in little over 12 months, 2014 has certainly been a year to remember for Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen Ali, writes Gary Smee.

    After a string of sensational performances with both bat and ball for club and country, the 27-year-old has even earned his own nickname – The Beard That’s Feared – a motto that is now scattered on T-shirts in grounds up and down the country.

    Birmingham-born Ali was destined for great things at a young age. His potential as an explosive batsman was first shown in an U19s Test for England against Sri Lanka in 2005 when he smashed a 56-ball century and before that he blasted an unbeaten 195 in a 20-over game

    for his U15 club side Moseley Ashfield.

    However, after moving from Warwickshire to Worcestershire in 2007, finding his feet in country cricket did not always prove to be an easy task for Moeen as his class with the bat was only seen in spurts and his off-spin only occasionally called upon.

    The 2010 campaign could be defined as Ali’s breakthrough season when he made 1,270 runs at an average of almost 50 in the Championship and there were some on the county circuit who thought higher honours could await.

    However, with Worcestershire suffering a couple of tough seasons in Division One, Moeen also found the going difficult despite offering his first real return with the ball in 2012 as he took 33 wickets at less than 30 apiece.

    But his 2013 campaign put him firmly back in the forefront of the England selectors’ minds with the bat.

    The left-hander racked up 1,375 runs at an average of 62.5 and, despite a number of critics saying good county form does not guarantee an England call-up, Ali’s statistics were too impressive to ignore and he was drafted into the squad for the One-Day tour of the West Indies in February this year.

    Starting with scores of 44, 10 and 55 in the Caribbean, Ali was praised for his transition into the international fold, but a difficult World T20 Cup in Bangladesh followed and, by this summer’s Test series against India, question marks were beginning to surface about Ali’s place in the side – especially whether or not his off-spin was good enough at Test level.

    However, those questions were put to bed in Southampton, as Ali took 6-67 to spin his side to success and level the series before his 4-39 helped England to victory in Manchester in the very next Test.

    An unbeaten century earlier in the summer against Sri Lanka also showed Moeen had international qualities with the bat – although he will surely be looking to build on an early average of 31.77 in 2015.

    Well spoken and polite off the field, there is certainly nothing to be ‘feared’ about Moeen Ali, but it is in the middle where he has earned his reputation to become one of the most recognised sportsmen in the country in 2014.

    Sascha Kindred OBE

    IN A SWIMMING career which has spanned two decades and produced 59 medals, Sascha Kindred OBE admits he still gets the same buzz now as he did in 1994, writes Jonny Bonell.

    “I’m still learning,” he said. “Even though I have been doing it for so long I’m still learning, I’m still experimenting and I’m still trying to get quicker.

    “I’ve still got the hunger for getting PBs (personal bests) and trying to win medals.

    “Obviously there’s some mornings when the alarm goes off and you want to roll over and not get up, but I still really enjoy it and I have a lot of people around me supporting me.”

    The Paralympian, who lives in Hereford and trains in Leominster, first took to the pool when he was just 11 and within four years he had made his competitive debut by representing the nation at Malta’s World Championships.

    Kindred went on to scoop bronze in the 100m SB7 breaststroke.

    From there the 36-year-old has gone from strength to strength, dominating in breaststroke and individual medley in major championships all over the world.

    With a total of six Paralympic gold medals, ten World Championship golds, 14 European golds and a host of records broken along the way, Kindred has truly cemented himself as one of Great Britain’s finest Paralympic swimmers.

    And he shows no signs of letting up. The past year has seen Kindred, who suffers with cerebral palsy which effects the right side of his body, reach new heights yet again.

    Kindred broke his own personal best and even a European record in Eindhoven in the 200m SM6 individual medley on the way to winning a further three golds, two silvers and a bronze to add to the every-growing medal tally.

    “With the Europeans, I was shocked by what I was doing,” he said. “I had injury problems leading up to it and to go into the Europeans and swim the way I did wasn’t expected.

    “Six races, six medals, it’s not a bad week’s work.

    “I’m one of the oldest swimmers on the team and to keep breaking personal bests shows I’m doing something right in training.

    “I suppose I’m wiser so I know how to deal with the pressure and a lot of the swimmers look up to what I’m doing, so it’s a case of me trying to be focused and trying to stay ahead.”

    Looking ahead to life out of the pool, Kindred, who received his OBE in 2009, admitted if he was lucky enough to make the Rio de Janeiro 2016 team he was “99 per cent sure” he would retire on the back of that.

    “When I set out to try and be good at swimming I never thought I would make a Paralympics, let alone do 20 years and go to five Paralympics,” he added.

    “I just pinch myself sometimes that I’ve had such a great career and it’s still continuing at the moment.

    “I’d like to be involved in sport in some way (after retiring) and try and inspire the next generation to give something back to what I have loved doing over my life.”

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    Swimmer Claire Cashmore (centre) is hoping for ultimate glory in Rio 2016. Picture by Marcus Mingins. 4612001MMR.

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    Sascha Kindred OBE with his silver medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (s)

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    Full back Chris Pennell made his England debut in the summer. Picture by Ian Smith.

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    Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen Ali became one of the country’s most recognised sportsmen in 2014. Picture by Ian Smith.

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