Report by ANGELA SINGER THE young gymnast who inspired the idea of an Athlete of the East sculpture – a giant figure on a pommel horse – has said he feels privileged to be the potential subject of a piece of public art. The Hunts Post asked Ramsey artist

Report by ANGELA SINGER

THE young gymnast who inspired the idea of an Athlete of the East sculpture - a giant figure on a pommel horse - has said he feels privileged to be the potential subject of a piece of public art.

The Hunts Post asked Ramsey artist Derek Massey to create a sculpture to mark the London 2012 Olympics.

The Cultural Olympiad has said it will commission a piece of artwork to the value of £500,000 for each of the nine English regions, and The Hunts Post believes this district is worthy of some of that money.

We want to see Mr Massey's giant, leaping man, made of steel and balancing on one hand on a pommel horse made of bog oak dug up from the Fens, built and erected in Huntingdonshire.

The artists has proposed to place the figure at Holme Fen on land which is to become part of the Great Fen Project, where it will be seen by the thousands of rail passengers travelling between London and Edinburgh as well as drawing tourists to the area.

Mr Massey, from Ramsey St Mary's, has said he will waive his intellectual rights to the piece so that any money from merchandise can go to Huntingdon's Olympic Gym.

The figure is partly inspired by Louis, who won a bronze medal on the pommel horse at the Beijing Olympics last year - and who trains at the Olympic Gym - and partly by the figure of an ancient Greek athlete at the Minoan Palace in Crete.

Louis, who celebrates his 20th birthday today (Wednesday) broke off from training at the gym on Friday to say: "It's amazing. It's a great privilege that someone wants to create a big statue, a sculpture of me on the pommel horse. It shows how well I've done and that people have noticed it as well."

Fellow pommel horse medallist, Daniel Keatings - both he and Smith won medals at the European Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Milan this month - agreed.

Daniel, 19, looked at Massey's painting of the figure, seen towering above the houses and trees on the skyline and said: "That's wonderful, fantastic. It is an honour that our little piece of gymnastic history should be remembered like this."

Their trainer, Paul Hall, who also trains the British Olympic pommel horse team, said: "When I saw the picture, I could see Louis dismounting at Beijing all over again.

"This is something to remind us all of how well we did in 2008. It is a great piece of artwork. It looks good aesthetically and it is great that our sport should be commemorated.

"This is something to inspire everyone."

Huntingdon Olympic Gym is now preparing athletes for the London 2012 Olympics. It has plans for a £4.5million extension with a new hall, reception area and access road from Mayfield Road, Hartford.

However, it has been turned down for Big Lottery funding and is now waiting to see if the money can be found from another National Lottery funding pot.

Despite that, enough funding has been raised for phase one of the project (the reception area and the new road) and this is due to start in coming weeks.