Published: 19th March 2012
AN “INSPIRATIONAL” MMU student has been chosen to carry the Olympic Torch when it tours the North West this May.
Natimi Black-Heaven, a second-year undergraduate, gives up 15 hours of his week to volunteer in the community, coaching and refereeing inner-city kids in basketball.
The former US college sprint champion from London, a student of BA (Hons) Sport Management, is one of 8,000 individuals carefully-selected by Locog for the event.
He is seen as a ‘perfect role model’ for young people, a fact not lost on ITV Granada who were at the University this week filming Nat at his lectures.
Granada’s Daniel Hewitt said: “All the torchbearers have stories of achievement, courage or represent Britain in some way. Nat is impressive because he is juggling a full-time degree course, working part-time and still giving up so much of his time for others to help get people active in sport.”
Steve Mansfield, principal lecturer in sport management, nominated the 19-year-old, having taught him and encouraged him with his volunteering. Steve, who runs training for the UK Olympic Ambassador scheme, told ITV: “Nat is a brilliant student and an inspirational coach. He spends a huge amount of time coaching youngsters, many of them disadvantaged and they do hang on his every word.
“He is making a real impact in the community by engaging people in sport which is what the Olympic ‘legacy’ is all about.
“We are extremely proud of him at Manchester Metropolitan University, and will be following his every step as he carries that torch.”
Nat was filmed by ITV presenting an event management project in the new Business School-Student Hub and also on the basketball court.
He will carry the torch for approximately ½ km at Abram near Leigh as it passes through the region on May 31.
He said: “I first got involved in volunteering through MMU and I kept doing it because I really enjoy it. Steve encourages us all the time to get involved in activities outside of University. He was the reason I got involved in sports volunteering in Manchester.
“It’s a proud moment, one for the family and friends and a once-in-a-lifetime moment to represent your country and be proud of yourself.”
Nat, who will volunteer at the London Games, working at the basketball arena, is keen to get others involved: “I recommend volunteering to other students, certainly. There are always opportunities and so many sports events going on.”