Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, visits Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in first solo engagement since birth of Prince George
- Credit: Archant
The Duchess of Cambridge - in her first solo royal engagement since the birth of Prince George three months ago - joined in a volleyball match when she visited the Olympic Park this week.
Kate threw herself into the action as she met Britain’s future sporting stars when she attended an athlete workshop run by charity SportsAid, which she become patron of last year.
Wearing a striped breton-style top, a navy blue Ralph Lauren blazer, navy cropped skinny jeans and cork wedged shoes, the new mum looked radiant as she chatted and joked with the young athletes who receive sponsorship and support by the charity.
On entering the Copper Box stadium the Duchess met with athletes playing badminton, wheelchair basketball, volleyball and fencing.
When she got round to the volleyball she jumped at the chance of taking part and showed off some impressive talent despite wearing five-inch heels.
Rising volleyball talent Grace Lazard, 16, played alongside the future Queen and said afterwards: “It was amazing that she was playing in heels. She was doing really well. She just jumped in and picked it up really quickly. I felt very privileged to play with her.”
Wheelchair basketball star Ade Adepitan, 40, who grew up in Newham and won bronze at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, also showed Kate his skills.
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He said: “She said last year was really great for highlighting the Paralympics and asked if I was still playing and I said yes, but I’m just coming to the end of my career. She was interested to know how the development was going and I said that after the Paralympics there was an influx coming into the team. It has done a lot of good for the sport.”
As she went round to each activity, Kate took time to find out about the athletes’ sports and how they got into them.
Badminton player Callum Hemming, 14, said: “She asked about the difficulty of badminton, what main events there were and how to get into the sport. It was astonishing to see her, we were quite nervous but she was lovely.”
Nekoda Davis, 20, who won a bronze medal at the junior European judo championships, gave the future Queen of England a fencing demonstration.
She said: “She wanted to give it a go. She said she would bring better footwear next time. It would be hard for her to fence in those shoes.”
In a mock press conference, Kate asked a young athlete how the training and help from SportsAid had helped her with her career and later at a mentoring workshop she learned how young athletes coped with often being away from friends.
Kate was given the tour by SportsAid’s chief executive Tim Lawler, who called the occasion a “landmark day” for the charity.
“To have her here seeing our work in action is superb and we are mindful that the things we talk about – next generation, inspirational – are all characters of her and that came over. Today she connected with the young athletes easily and they opened up. She has fantastic listening skills. For her to shine a spotlight and to warm to it is so important for the charity,” he said.
The charity SportsAid helps the next generation of British athletes by providing awards to meet essential costs such as travel, training, accommodation, competition fees and equipment.
Double gold medallist rower Steve Williams was one of numerous Olympians and Paralympians present who had been helped by SportsAid during their career.
He said: “It is the sort of help you never forget.”