ICG was a family affair for Hannah
Published: Wednesday, 10 August 2011
The International Children’s Games was a real family affair for Coventry swimmer Hannah Matthews.
The 14-year-old was part of the city's eight-strong swim team which took part in two exciting days of competition at the new-look Dollan Aqua Centre in East Kilbride. And the whole family was determined to spur her on as she swam for glory in the 400 freestyle, 100 backstroke and girls 400m relay events.
Dad Lee, mum Yvonne and 11-year-old brother Jason, grandparents Marjorie and Robert Matthews and Edna Tweddle and big cousin Leigh-Ann Young all made the journey north to support the talented teenager.
And although Hannah just missed out on a podium spot, there was huge excitement among the team when boys Earl Radtschenko won silver and Samuel Richards picked up silver and bronze.
In fact the Coventry delegation were enthusiastic supporters of the whole Games experience with dad Lee working hard in advance of the event to secure sponsorship from a local building supplies firm for the swimming team's kit.
Mum Yvonne says the family enjoyed every minute of the ICG with the spectacular opening ceremony at Fir Park, a particular highlight. She went on: "It really was an amazing evening and I definitely had goosebumps. Seeing Hannah walk out there representing our city, amongst hundreds of other athletes from across the world, was very special for me. It was hard not to feel emotional. All of the dancing and music and the friendly atmosphere just started everything off in the right way and, whether medals were won or not, this will always be an experience to remember for all of us.
Hannah admits the Games are by far the biggest competitive event she has ever taken part in. But, despite initial nerves, she has had a fantastic time. "What has been really good for us is that all of the athletes got to stay together in a sort of 'olympic village' style accommodation. I have met so many people from countries all over the world and I am sure my facebook friends list will be much longer by the time I get home!"
Having watched the Games as a fan, 11-year-old 'sports-mad' brother Jason is also now eyeing a spot on the Coventry team in future years. So, could a family trip to 2014 host city Lake MacQuarie in Australia be on the cards? Laughs Yvonne: "Much as I would love to see Jason following in Hannah's footsteps, I think air fares for six to the other side of the world could be quite a stretch, although if we win the lottery, who knows?
"And, in reality, it would be hard to see how anything could top the experience we will take away from the Lanarkshire games as a family and as a team."