A FORMER Jamaican bobsleigher has set his sites on a North East town to set up a base to train the next generation of sporting heroes.

Dudley ‘Tal' Stokes, Captain of the original Jamaican Bobsleigh Winter Olympics team, is in the process of setting up an Olympic base in Middlesbrough to train athletes, and encourage fitness routines within local communities, businesses, and schools.

Captain of the original Jamaican Bobsleigh Winter Olympics team, Tal is a hugely motivating individual, and founding member of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team, on which the hit Disney film ‘Cool Runnings' was based.

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Considered an iconic film by many and with a massive fan base, the team's trainer was played by Hollywood actor John Candy.

A four-time Olympian, Mr Stokes went from what many regarded as a chancer to contender in only six years.

Moreover, he continues to maintain the same optimum mental health and physical health because he believes they are closely linked. Full of inspiring mantras, the one he feels most strongly about is, ‘good physical health leads to good mental health'.

The Northern Echo: Dudley ‘Tal’ Stokes, Captain of the original Jamaican Bobsleigh Winter Olympics team

Mr Stokes is now a performance Coach and works with members of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team on how to achieve and maintain the peak performance state when needed regardless of external environment.

He wants to set up a base in Middlesbrough to continue work with Jamaica Bobsleigh athletes based in GB and to encourage fitness, offer inspiration and motivation within the community.

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Mr Stokes said: "I first came to Middlesbrough when working with Jo Manning on the first female bobsleigh team.

"More recently I have found that a lot of Jamaican bobsleighers live in the UK so we wanted to bring them together and Middlesbrough was the perfect place.

"We could have chosen anywhere in the UK but the push to level up the North and the amount of opportunities that are coming here makes it a great place to start.

"Middlesbrough is a socially deprived area and so if we are to level up it must come from the bottom, they must be motivated and grab opportunities.

"Motivation comes from being active and getting engaged with sports.

"The upside is tremendous, improved health outcomes and a lessening of the burden on health services will only make the Teesside area more competitive within the UK and worldwide, honouring the legacy of Captain James Cook."

The Northern Echo:

Middlesbrough native Jo Manning was a coach with Tal on the historic 2018 Jamaica Bobsleigh Team, the first time a female team from Jamaica had qualified for the Olympic Games: "Middlesbrough and all around Teesside is a great area with great people whom I know, if they can get the opportunity will excel.

"We are trying to give them another way forward, there cannot be too many ways."

Mr Stokes is now in Middlesbrough working to implement the program.

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