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Basketballer scores with students in healthy living week

YOUNG sportsmen have new-found bounce in their steps after being inspired by one of the country’s top basketball players.

GB and Leicester Rider forward Drew Sullivan spent the day coaching students from Bede Academy, Blyth.

The 33-year-old Londoner, who now lives in South Beach, Blyth, spent time in the classroom and on the court offering students an insight into the professional game.

The session was part of a Delivering Sports programme run by Sky Sports, which is designed to find and inspire the next generation of top athletes, and came as the academy launched its annual Healthy Living Week.

Drew, who moved to the North East to play for Newcastle Eagles, told students how a horrific childhood accident, which left him with torn hamstrings and a dislocated hip, had steered him towards the game.

“I was 13, I was tall and fast and good at track and field – I could have been Usain Bolt,” he said.

“But then something went during a training session. It was the most horrific thing I had ever experienced but it also turned out to be the best thing that ever happened.”

He said the injuries recovered physically in about four months but left a seed of doubt in his mind about continuing in athletics. Because of his 6ft 8in frame he decided to look at basketball.

After studying at a university in America, Drew has played basketball in Spain, Russian, Belgium and Cyprus as well as travelling the world playing for Team GB.

“I have had such a great time thanks to sport and now want to share my experiences and show the children the potential of being a professional athlete,” he said.

“Sport paid for my education and has allowed me to represent my country and travel the world. I have played basketball for 21 years and I feel I have a responsibility to pass my knowledge on.”

Sports teacher at Bede Academy Andrew Sutherland added:

“The students have been completely inspired by Drew and are amazed by the opportunities that professional sport can offer.

“The fact that a top athlete now lives just around the corner shows just how accessible succeeding at the highest level can be if you want it badly enough.”