Fifty new sporting stars were added to Bolton’s iconic Spirit of Sport sculpture yesterday (September 28).
England and Lancashire cricketer Sajid Mahmood, Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny, and paralympians Rachael Latham and Anthony Griffin were some of the sporting personalities whose images were added to the trophy-shaped structure.
The new ‘sportraits’ join the 650 faces already on the sculpture, including former Wanderers player Nat Lofthouse and Kathleen Taylor who was the first woman to swim Lake Windermere in 1951.
A team of specialist engineers from Railtec Engineering used a crane to attach 50 sportraits to the bottom two rows of the 30 metre high sculpture.
The Spirit of Sport, which was designed by Eaton Waygood Associates, was erected five years ago on the De Havilland Way roundabout near the Reebok Stadium and Bolton Arena.
Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Development and Regeneration, said: “The additions to the statue reflect the changing face of sport in Bolton. This giant sculpture celebrates our town’s sporting heroes and those who have contributed to the development of their chosen sport often without the recognition they deserve.”
England and Lancashire cricketer Sajid Mahmood added: “It’s a great honour to go on there and join a lot of sporting heroes from Bolton. It’s fantastic to be appreciated for all your efforts in this way.”
The illuminated structure is now covered with 700 mirrored photo-etchings of people - amateur and professional, past and present – who have made a contribution to sport in Bolton. It includes “backroom” people as well as participants and represents a wide variety of sports.
Horwich RMI Harriers volunteer athletics coach Mark Dacre, said: “This is a great tribute from the council to reward volunteers. I do it for the love of the sport and to give young people a chance.”
Paralympian Anthony Griffin, who won a total of 38 medals in his career, added: All the stars are on there and I’m very pleased to be added. The Spirit of Sport promotes the sporting achievements of Bolton athletes of all abilities.”
The addition of the sportraits has been possible thanks to the continued sponsorship from the Emerson Group, who own and operate the adjoining Middlebrook and Parkland Schemes.
Paul Burgess, Board Director of the Emerson Group, said: “Emerson is delighted to continue its sponsorship of the iconic Spirit of Sport sculpture for a further three years, until the end of 2013. We congratulate all of the sporting personalities whose images are on the magnificent sculpture and applaud their dedication and contribution to their own sport. We look forward to celebrating the addition of further sportraits in the future as sport in the borough of Bolton flourishes.”
For more information about the sculpture visit the website.