Games begin for local trio

THE cold and wet of an English winter is being swapped for the heat Down Under by a trio of top local sporting personalities. Two Comet Sportswomen of the Year will be at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, which start next Wednesday. They are

THE cold and wet of an English winter is being swapped for the heat Down Under by a trio of top local sporting personalities.

Two Comet Sportswomen of the Year will be at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, which start next Wednesday.

They are Stotfold cycling world champion Victoria Pendleton, this year's deserved winner, and Baldock bowler Shirley Page, the inaugural holder of the accolade in 2003.

And they will be joined by former Olympian Martyn Brown, also from Stotfold, who is the current Great Britain diving supremo.

Victoria will be wearing the colours of England at the Games.

The 25-year-old is a realistic hope of a medal as she is the current women's world sprint champion.

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She took the title at the World Track Championships in Los Angeles last year.

Victoria has made significant progress since making her international debut at the last Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.

Shirley is not competing at the Games this time, having missed out on selection for the England ladies' bowls squad.

She was not among the six-strong ladies' elite squad - whittled down from an initial group of 12 - chosen by the selectors.

But she is not bitter and is still flying out to Oz this Sunday.

"I'm still going out to support the team," confirmed Shirley.

"It's someone else's turn this time. We've got around 20 top bowlers in the country and only six can go."

Shirley enjoyed success at the two previous Games, firstly winning a bronze medal in the fours in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1998.

And she was a gold medal winner in the fours on home soil in Manchester four years later.

Shirley believes nothing can compare to the camaraderie the event engenders.

"The Commonwealth Games are known as the friendly games and I would agree," she added.

"They are fabulous and I had some great times when I was at them both."

Martyn is the Great Britain diving team manager as well as the national synchronised diving coach.

His credentials include taking part in two Olympics and two previous Commonwealth Games, three world championships and being champion of England six times.

Martyn was a swimming instructor at Stevenage until last year and is also a part-time coach at the Beaumont Diving Academy in Hatfield.

The GB diving party were attending a pre-Games training camp in Adelaide this week ready for competition.