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It's good to contribute.

Byline: tanni grey-thompson

One of the things that I am very proud to be part of, as an ex-athlete, is the Laureus World Sports Academy.

every year we have a very glam e - orous awards evening where the 50 of us vote for who we think are the best achievers in sport.

We have categories for men, women, disabled athlete, team, comeback of the year, and extreme sports.

It is a really interesting thing to be part of and this week I am submitting my column from Shanghai.

To the woman in the shop in Middlesbrough I was talking to about going to a dinner, this is the event my dress was for!

The north-east weather has prepared us for here. Most of the Australian and American athletes are freezing. I am fine.

The real reason that many of us are there, is for the foundation we are able to contribute to. We all raise money to put back into sport and support projects all around the world.

One of the projects we support in China is about teaching teachers. I went to visit the project on Tuesday and it was great to see some young teachers, many of whom had not had a lot of experience of sport, being taught the skills they need to develop soccer.

Apparently Shanghai has some amazing women's teams but they want to open it out to more. In a city of 20 million people it is going to be interesting to see what happens when they start taking it seriously!

When I first came to China (Beijing) in 2005 I did not see another wheelchair user. People stopped and stared and even came up and touched me.

Ten years on their tube is wheelchair accessible, and getting around the city on foot was easy and I didn't have to use the bike paths, which were actually a brilliant way to get around.

With the foundation I have been able to visit places that I would probably never have been able to - such as looking at projects in the Favellas in Rio where they use sport to tackle gun crime. none of the children isallowed to bring guns to the boxing sessions.

In Rwanda it has been used to move on from the genocide and people who were on different sides now play volleyball together, and in Israel and Palestine it is about encouraging and empowering girls to have confidence in themselves.

While the dinner is nice (and a bit surreal listening to Mark Spitz describe himself as someone "who used to swim"), meeting young people who are as passionate about sport, and teaching itas we are - is the best bit.


Dame |Tanni speaking at a previous Laureus world sports academy event in Rio

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Apr 16, 2015
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