COUNTY NEWS: Crowdfunding takes Sussex coach to Rio Olympics

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A Sussex athletics coach will see his star pupil compete in the Rio Olympics later today (Monday) thanks to the efforts of a crowdfunding campaign.

As an unpaid coach with Lewes Athletics Club, 57-year-old Dave Leach has helped guide the career of steeplechase runner Rob Mullet for the last 16 years.

But after he was unable to win accreditation from UK Athletics, it looked as if Mr Leach would have to remain at home as his 29-year-old protégé competed on the world’s greatest sporting stage.

In response members of Lewes Athletics Club set up a crowd-funding campaign to pay for Mr Leach’s Plane tickets and within 24 hours the club’s members and supporters had raised the £3,000 needed to cover Mr Leach’s flights.

Club chairman Peter Masters said: “Not only have sufficient funds now been raised to ‘get Dave to Rio’ but additional funds have been collected which will be used to further support Rob in his self funded efforts to get to the Olympics.

“Without sponsorship and lottery funding it has been a heroic effort by Rob over the years to make it to the Olympics.”

The appeal has now raised more than £6,000 to support both Mr Leach and his student.

Mullett, who has been teamed-up with his coach since he was 16-years-old, was made part of Team GB earlier this year after competing in the European Championships.

He is set to race in the first heat of the 3,000m steeplechase at 2.25pm UK time.

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