Back in the day, before gold medals were two a penny for British athletes and Greater Manchester was still struggling to define itself beyond Coronation Street and Lowry, there were two girl runners who sprinkled a bit of stardust on the Morrissey-laden gloom. They were multi 800 metres medallist Diane Modahl, and multi 100 metres medallist Paula Dunn.
Both were massive local celebs in the late 80s and early 90s and brilliant athletes on the world stage. And they are still inspiring sporting hopefuls today.
Diane Modahl runs the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation, a charity which `gives young people across Greater Manchester access to world class coaching and coaches', while Paula Dunn last year became Head Coach of Paralympics GB, a huge job aiming to emulate the success of previous chief Charles Van Commenee, whose team stormed the London Olympics in the popularity and Paralympics medal stakes.
Now the pair have linked up again, with Paula becoming an ambassador for the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation.
"I've just come onto it to make people aware of the Foundation and to show support for the kids" says Paula "It predominantly works in identifying kids in schools, recruiting athletes and giving them sport as a lever to widen their horizons, to get experience in success.
"They may be struggling in school, especially in inner city areas, and it gets them involved in a healthier lifestyle and gives them a focus" she adds "If they have success in one area it should lead on to success in other areas."
The Foundation's website is full of case studies reporting how this has worked in practice, like the experience of 14-year-old runner Hillary Agyei-Asare…
"People said to me 'Don't waste your talent, you should join DMSF', and I'm really glad people suggested this to me as it has not only helped me with my running and training but has affected the rest of my life too" she explains "I feel I can now concentrate better in class and can focus my attention much better. I have always struggled with Maths and Science but I've noticed that my grades have really improved over the last year."
Having someone like Paula Dunn onside must be incredible for athletes starting out. Paula won a 100m silver medal and 4x100m gold at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, and Commonwealth bronze in the 100m and 4x100m relay at Kuala Lumpur in 1994. And from just chatting to her it's clear that her infectious enthusiasm for sport will shine through for anyone.
Paula was always associated with Manchester but now she's firmly Salford based.
"I lived in Chorlton when I was with my parents but I've lived over this side, in Peel Green, for nearly 17 years" she says "I've not had much involvement in Salford athletics because Trafford has always been my first club. I went down to the Salford club a couple of times in the summer and it's got quite a nice little track.
"It hasn't got a stand which isn't great, especially for holding competitions, and the facilities aren't great" she adds "But it's probably low down the list of what the local authority is going to spend money on, so it's quite difficult in this climate to try and get any sort of expenses to upgrade it unfortunately."
The Diane Modahl Sports Foundation isn't set up to fund such clubs but Paula says that Diane is trying to work with Salford swimmers and is involved with Salford University. The Foundation doesn't yet work in Salford schools but, Paula explains… "The long term plan is to cover all of Greater Manchester, depending on funding."
Indeed, part of her ambassador's job for the Foundation is to attend fundraising events to try and get new commercial partners to support the charity alongside businesses like UK Fast, the Bridgewater Hospital and ReThink Recruitment.
In the meantime, the former golden girl of British athletics has her hands full as Head Coach for the next generation of paralympians, as well as inspiring her own 11 year old son who has just started out as a sprinter in his mum's mode. Salford could well have its first world champion athlete in the not too distant future. Plus a few more when the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation arrives here…
For full details of the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation and how to get involved see www.dmsf.co.uk