Olympian Audrey Cooper ‘honoured’ to carry Olympic Flame

GB Women’s Head Coach and Olympian Audrey Cooper has been chosen as one of the torchbearers of the London 2012 Olympic Torch as part of its journey across the world on it’s way to lighting the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony on 27th July 2012.

The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey and will enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer.

The London 2012 Olympic Torch design features 8,000 small cut-out circles, representing the 8,000 inspirational people who will carry it on its journey around the UK over 70 days between 19 May – 27 July 2012. Audrey is one of 7 ‘volleyball’ torchbearers and will carry the Torch during the Loughborough leg on Tuesday 3rd July.

The strapline of the Torch Relay is a ‘Moment to Shine’ with the torchbearers demonstrating the Olympic spirit is alive and well across the UK. The nomination programmes run by Locog, Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung earlier this year focused on recognising and rewarding people with a story of personal achievement and or contribution to the local community.

Heralding from Whitburn Scotland, Audrey has been involved in volleyball for over 35 years, 25 as an athlete and 11 as a coach. She has not only achieved phenomenal success but also ‘given back’ to the sport she loves.

As a junior player, she competed in Scotland, moving South to England to develop her game where she played for Hillingdon and then competed for over 18 years as setter for London Malory, captain for the last 10 years. Internationally, Cooper competed for over 20 years - indoor and beach – Scotland Junior & Senior, England Senior, GB.

On the sand she remains GB’s most successful pairing with Amanda ‘Mo’ Glover having competed on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Series tour (1993-2000) consistently ranked in the World’s top 20. Her ultimate highlight was qualifying for, and representing GB, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games exceeding all expectations (18 teams, seeded 13th, finished 9th). Other key success include 9th place in the World Championships and 3rd in the European Championships.

Towards the end of her playing career, Audrey started coaching and quickly made the step to international level, first as Assistant and then Head Coach of the England Senior Women’s Indoor National Team. In 2006, she moved to Sheffield to take the role of GB Indoor Volleyball Assistant Coach in December, subsequently becoming head coach in 2009. Despite huge funding issues, Audrey is driving the GB Women’s programme to new heights, determined to leave a legacy in the sport.

Legacy is also important from a coaching perspective and to support this, Audrey has undertaken the role of mentor for a number of UK coaches in both volleyball and other sports and has been recruited by UK Sport to assist with the delivery of their Elite Coach Apprenticeship Programme.

The Olympic Flame unites the world, travelling across all continents and Cooper says she is ‘honoured to have been nominated and looking forward to playing a small part in the Flame’s journey to London, alongside some inspirational torchbearers’.  We congratulate Audrey on recognition of her contribution to our sport and hope she enjoys this unique and fabulous opportunity. See some awesome pictures of the history of the torch relay here.

We will have an in-depth interview with Audrey later this week where she tells us her thoughts about the big summer ahead, the challenges and opportunities for her as head coach, what its like being an Olympian and what she’s been doing in the not-so-off-season! In the meantime, if you want to know what the Torch Relay is all about, check out this highlights video from Athens 2004….

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