AN Olympic hopeful passed on her knowledge and experience to the next generation in Bournemouth.

Marathon runner Louise Damen, who is originally from St Ives near Ringwood, was at Wood BMW in Wallisdown, which is sponsoring her, to meet young athletes and help launch the new 3-Series car.

Louise, 29, used to be a member of Bournemouth Athletics Club and has taken a year’s sabbatical from teaching A-level students to focus on her training.

She said: “I’m talking to local youngsters and trying to encourage them a bit.

“It’s been lovely because a lot of them are from Bournemouth Athletics Club, which is where I started out, so it’s been good to speak to them and find out what they’re interested in.”

Her performance in April’s London Marathon will determine whether or not she gets to compete at London 2012.

Louise added: “It’s really tough and competitive because it’s a home Games and all the athletes are going for it.”

Jayne Wilkinson, 11, from Bournemouth, was one child who went along.

She said: “I do long jump and sprinting and I do pole vault as well. I also do gym so hopefully I can do it all. Louise said to have fun.”

Jamie Harwood, 11, from Bournemouth, added: “I want to grow up doing athletics, I want to carry on as I get older. I’m best at sprinting.”

Hannah Molyneaux, 10, from Bournemouth, said: “I’m going to keep working at what I do and keep enjoying it, that’s the lesson I’ve learnt.”

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