Olympic tickets offered to UK Armed Forces members

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Media captionLondon 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe: "To recognise our armed forces in this way is really important"

Troops serving in the UK's Armed Forces are being given the chance to win tickets for next year's Olympic Games.

The Tickets For Troops share-out will allow 10,000 tickets to be given to members of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and their families.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said he was "absolutely delighted" troops could receive tickets.

And young people are also to be given the chance to win free Olympic tickets in return for taking part in sport.

Tickets For Troops is being funded by London 2012's Ticketshare scheme, which sees proceeds from prestige hospitality seats used to provide tickets to worthy causes.

All serving members of the Armed Forces and those medically discharged since the start of military action in Afghanistan in 2001 are eligible to register for tickets, which must be done online at the Tickets For Troops website.

Lord Coe told the BBC he thought it was "really important" to recognise the role played by the Armed Forces, "and their families who underpin that extraordinary service and commitment".

Image caption Cpl Mark Dane says he is hoping for tickets for the Olympics shooting

"I genuinely believe that this is a unique group of people because they are in an occupation that, on occasion, and sadly, demands the ultimate sacrifice.

"Through the sale of our prestige tickets we are enabling the donation of tickets to a number of deserving causes - it would be unimaginable that we wouldn't include our armed service personnel," he said.

Tickets For Troops chairman Lord Marland said the services "embodied the Olympic spirit - they put their bodies on the line for their country" and the support made a real difference to the troops who were "doing such an extraordinary job during these difficult times".

Cpl Mark Dane, 31, from 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment - who has served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland - said he was a "massive advocate" of the chance to win Olympics tickets.

"The RAF and Royal Navy are out in Libya, we have constant tours in Afghanistan - all the forces are spread out across the world.

"We get a rough deal. If we're going on tour we can't take it to heart - most of us have a black sense of humour, which helps us deal with it - so the discounts and perks really do help," he said.

Image caption Rhien Hanson says watching the Olympic discus would be "out of this world"

Cpl Dane, who plays rugby in the Army, said he is hoping for tickets for the shooting at Woolwich, which is where he is currently based.

"My wife will probably want to go for the 100m sprint or the 200m sprint though", he said.

Rich Reeves, 25, an RAF dental nurse who has already been to an England versus Pakistan cricket match at the Oval through Tickets For Troops, said it was "fantastic" that servicemen and servicewomen were being given the chance to win Olympics tickets.

"I play a lot of hockey in the RAF so am opting for the Olympics hockey - hopefully there will be more chance of getting tickets than for the swimming or track-and- field events," he said.

Rhien Hanson, 25, who joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 and has completed tours of duty in the Far East and the Gulf, said getting tickets to any of the athletic events would be "amazing".

As she competes in the shot, discus and hammer in the Royal Navy, watching the Olympic discus would be "out of this world," she said.

Tickets For Troops was set up in 2009 and since then more than 250,000 free tickets to major sporting, entertainment, musical and cultural events has been shared out.

Meanwhile, any young people who want to qualify for the ballot in which they can also win Olympic tickets will have to join in the Sportivate mass participation scheme.

Sportivate aims to give 14 to 25-year-olds the chance of six to eight weeks of sports coaching.

An eight-week judo course in Lincoln, wakeboarding courses in the Cotswolds and an eight-week introduction to golf for disabled teenagers and young adults in Bedfordshire are among the courses on offer.

The whole programme will cost £32m and is designed to get 300,000 youngsters playing sport.

To be eligible for free Olympics tickets participants must complete the sports course, missing no more than one session, and then participate for three months.

Sport England hopes the 49 county sports partnerships and local providers and sports clubs, which will run the scheme on the ground, will help those taking part to continue with sport after they have completed their course.

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