By Tom Degun

September 24 - The Youth Sport Trust Young Ambassador Programme today welcomed around 200 new members from South East England - aged between 14 and 19 - at the Brit Oval in London.

The initiative – which aims to use the London 2012 Games to encourage children to choose sport - is part of the London 2012 Inspire programme which invites selected Young Ambassadors to work as role models in schools and communities.

In attendance at the Brit Oval - amongst a host of former Olympians - was the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, Derek Redmond (pictured), a member of Britain's 4x400 metres relay team that won the 1991 world title, and and former badminton player Gail Emms, the 2004 Olympic medallist.

The programme was launched in response to London’s promise in July 2005 - when the capital was awarded the 2012 Games - to use the Olympics and Paralympics to inspire millions of young people across Britain to get involved in sport. 

Despite the scale of the challenge ahead, Sutcliffe remains optimistic that London 2012 will deliver on its promise.

Sutcliffe told insidethegames: “One of the things Lord Sebastian Coe said [in 2005 when London was awarded the Games] was about inspiring youth and the youth of the world and its an immense challenge because its never been done before.

“The participation figures that we’re after - two million more people involved in sport by 2012 - its never been achieved by any country or city that has hosted the Games so we are trying to make sure we spread the spirit of the Olympics and the Paralympics right the way through and that is why the Young Ambassadors Programme is vital.

“Its not just about being an elite sports man or woman, its about how you feel about yourself, how you feel about your community and how you, individually, can not only change yourself but can also change the world you live in."

Redmond, who talked about his heroic effort to limp over the 400m finish line at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics when badly injured, echoed his support for the initiative.

Redmond said: “Growing up, I was inspired by lots of different people and these young Ambassadors have the perfect opportunity to become positive role models for their peers."

Emms told insidethegames: “It’s so important to keep the legacy of inspiring young people going [following the 2012 Games].

"It’s not just about a 'one hit wonder' once the Games arrive; it’s about continuing that and continuing to inspire future generations." 

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