London 2012 balloon tour

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From the heart of the Olympic Park, the UK's National Lottery launched its London 2012 Games hot air balloon on 22 July, which will embark on a nationwide tour this summer.

Lifting off at the Olympic Park, the hot air balloon took its first tethered flight with Olympic canoeing gold medallist, Tim Brabants, Olympic gymnastics bronze medallist, Louis Smith and Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medallist, Tasha Danvers onboard. The hot air balloon will visit cities throughout the UK, giving members of the public the chance to fly in the balloon, accompanied by elite athletes. The hot air balloon is going on tour to thank Lottery players for their contribution to London 2012 and to highlight the role that people from across the UK will play in helping to host the world's greatest sporting event. Over £25m a week is raised by Lottery players for projects across the UK that make a real difference to people's lives. The National Lottery is contributing up to £2. 2bn to fund the infrastructure and the venues for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and their legacy, as well as enabling around 1, 400 talented British athletes to benefit from world–class coaching and support through UK Sport's World Class Performance Programme. Peter Keen, director of performance at UK Sport, said: "Lottery funding has changed the face of sport in the UK and has contributed to a total of 438 Olympic and Paralympic medals for Great Britain since 1997. The hot air balloon tour is a great way for the public to meet local elite athletes, and for those athletes to be able to thank Lottery players for their support. "Olympic gold medallist, Tim Brabants said: "Lottery players are making a vital contribution to both athletes like me and the development of the London 2012 venues and their legacy. This hot air balloon is just one way of celebrating their support of the world's largest sporting event coming to the UK. "The National Lottery's hot air balloon will visit Birmingham on 27 July, Manchester on 16 August, Cardiff on 14 September and Sheffield on 28 September. The balloon is scheduled to visit further cities in 2011 and 2012. For each of these four locations, members of the public can apply to win a chance to fly in the balloon with elite athletes from their region. Details of the competitions will be available in advance through local press. For further details visit www. lotterygoodcauses. org. uk. The National Lottery also announced over £1. 1m of funding to two programmes focused on communities in the five Olympic Host Boroughs. In the Parks is a three year project aimed at increasing long term participation in sport across the Boroughs and Represent London is a three year employability and volunteering project for young people.

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