Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes has been back in the region, passing on tips to aspiring athletes.
The former 800 and 1500 metres star was working with students at Gateshead College.
It is the final visit for Dame Kelly and a team of experts after overseeing a year-long programme to help young people achieve their dreams through physical and mental preparation.
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A decision will be announced on the fate of three GP surgeries in Hartlepool later.
The UK only managed to rank 20th on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) index of nations - a slide from 9th position in 2006.
"Last season is fading from view in the rear-view mirror with bright skies ahead for the rest of the season."