Snapper’s sporting chance

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A PHOTOGRAPHER has been given a welcome boost to his photography project tracking hopefuls on the Olympic path.

Arts Council England have handed Hebden Bridge-based Paul Floyd Blake a grant to assist with his project “On Track for 2012”.

Alex Craig from Hartlepool photographed in Bolton 2009 by Paul Floyd Blake

Alex Craig from Hartlepool photographed in Bolton 2009 by Paul Floyd Blake

The project follows a group of 12 young athletes who could be flying the flag for their country at the Olympic Games in London next year.

Paul hopes the Arts Council grant will be used to help compile a book of the images following the exhibition.

He is snapping the athletes, aged between 12 and 24, once a year from 2007 to 2012.

“We do keep in touch between pictures and it’s fantastic to keep in contact. When they’re doing well they’ll sometimes drop me an email and let me know which is really nice,” said Paul.

The stars compete in a variety of disciplines, including judo, table tennis and swimming.

Already some of the sports stars are on the road to Olympic glory. Gaby White, a member of Team GB’s badminton team, recently represented her country at the Commonwealth Games.

Running alongside the pictures are stories by each of the athletes detailing their hopes and fears about training and competition.

“We separate sport from the creativity, but actually it’s a really nice way of letting the athelete’s express how they feel.

Paul has already won praise for the portraits, last year winning the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for one a portrait of swimmer Rosie Bancroft.

The pictures will be shown at an exhibition at the Impressions gallery in Bradford from July 6 2012.

He currently has no plans to exhibit in Calderdale, but said he would like to, if the opportunity arose.