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2014-03-24T15:34:00 Updated 2015-02-18T22:19:41

Hunter leads Sport Relief charge

Decorated Olympian Mark Hunter MBE led West Ham United's Sport Relief effort at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Sunday.

Once Olympic champion Hunter, who brought his own Hammers posse along, had Academy coach Mark Phillips for company among a nine-strong West Ham crew taking on the Sport Relief Mile.

West Ham United Community Sports Trust were also out in force on the Park, bringing their football roadshow to scores of families enjoying their day out in Stratford.

Speaking just a stone's throw from the Olympic Stadium itself, lifelong Hammer Hunter, who won silver in the lightweight double sculls at London 2012, could hardly help but project two years down the line.

"The enthusiasm and excitement around the Park has been incredible," he told West Ham TV. "Lots of kids doing their mile, walking it, running it, being pushed in prams. The buzz is awesome.

"We keep thinking about that [matchdays] now and it's not too far away before we move here. Things are taking shape inside the Stadium and it will all be set up and ready to go when we do arrive. You can just see how the Park's growing and we want that excitement every week when the team's playing here."

Sport Relief Mile
Mark Hunter and fellow West Ham runners celebrate at the finish line

With the newly landscaped southern section of the Park to open on Saturday 5 April, Hunter insists the Park will quickly become, if it hasn't already, a hugely popular destination.

"More of the facilities are opening up and once people can just roam around here and enjoy what happened in 2012, the more excited people are going to become on a weekly basis."

U18s assistant manager Phillips was the first of West Ham's representatives across the finish line, but having tackled marathons in the past, admitted this was something of a walk in the Park.

Mark Phillips Sport Relief
Coach Mark Phillips was the quickest of West Ham's runners  

"Someone must have pushed me that last 100 yards," he joked. "It's good, I had a bit of a second wind and something still left in the tank, so I thought I'd try to impress the cameras and get over the line quickly.

"It's quite a short distance for me, because, believe it or not, looking at my frame, I've run a couple of London marathons."

Aside from the running, Phillips revelled in the jubilant mood among runners, inspired by a setting that will house the Hammers from 2016.

"Fantastic atmosphere and the atmosphere has been good all around the Park. It's a good turnout, considering the weather's not great. The participants were all enjoying themselves and I went past David Haye, who's obviously a Millwall fan. I had to go past him!

David Haye Sport Relief
Heavyweight David Haye was among many famous faces at the Park  

"It's a great venue, particularly being associated with West Ham and obviously in two years this is going to be our home and it's nice to run round it. Great cause as well.

"I think it will be a fantastic place for us to come to. It's exciting. I've been a West Ham fan all my life and I think there will be great times for us here."

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