Talented athletes from South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse will benefit from a £74,050 fund – thanks to charitable social enterprise GLL. The athletes will be supported through the GLL Sport Foundation (GSF), the largest independent athlete support programme in the UK, which this year marks its 10th year of supporting today and tomorrow’s athletes.
The athlete awards cover Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic, Special Olympic and Commonwealth sporting disciplines. With a staggering 84% of award recipients receiving no other sport funding and 77% of recipients being aged under 21, the Sport Foundation has highlighted a vital funding gap for young talented athletes currently competing at National and international levels.
Elizabeth Ryan, aged 10 from Henley was the youngest GSF athelete to be given an award. The GLL award recognises her achievements in 2017 when she won individual Bronze at the UIPM European Triathle Championships in Portugal (a combined Run/Shoot/Swim event) and followed this up with Team Silver at the UIPM World Championships in Spain. She is an active member of Reading Swimming Club, Reading Rascals Triathlon Club, Reading Athletics Club and Reading Fencing Club and regularly uses the GLL Henley Leisure Centre facilities (the site of her first ever athletics meet, triathlon and swimming gala) to support her training.
Elizabeth said, “I have always loved sport and am proud to receive the support of GLL Sports Foundation. At the presentation event I really enjoyed hearing about each athlete and their amazing achievements across so many different sports, it was very inspiring. This year, I have been working hard on developing skills in four of the five disciplines of Modern Pentathlon, shooting, running, swimming and fencing. My next challenge is to learn to ride a horse in order to complete the big five, I think I may need a lot of help with that one as I am a complete beginner!”
GSF Patron and former Olympic Champion Sally Gunnell explained the core role the GSF takes in supporting the next generation of athletes and thus ensuring a sporting legacy is in place for future generation: “Sport is such an important element in our lives whether that be as an athlete; a coach or within the wide network of support, sport can and will continue to deliver so much for us. This was seen once again from the euphoria that gripped the Nation during the World Athletics Championships last year”.
“It was fantastic to see GLL Sport Foundation supported athletes deliver medal successes and others to break through to the international representative level. It is a core ambition for the Foundation to be successful in supporting both today’s and tomorrow’s athletes”.
Peter Bundey, GSF Chair, paid tribute to the athletes, programme stakeholders and also highlighted the impact the Foundation is making: “The wealth of young sporting talent within our local communities is truly inspiring. We are delighted to play our part in supporting the development of sporting talent across in every region in the where GLL operate sports and leisure facilities. We believe that the vast majority of the athletes that benefit from the GLL Sport Foundation will give something back to sport and society in a positive way; whether as a future champion inspiring the nation, sports coach, volunteer, fund raiser or as an inspirational role model to other young people to get active and involved in sport”.
“I would like to thank all our partners and sponsors for their support for the programme. SportsAid, SportsAid Wales and Mary Peters Trust provide the direct links to Sport Governing Body talent pathways, whilst our many corporate sponsors headlined by GLL and Technogym, numerous local authorities, university and physiotherapy partners directly contribute to support these sporting dreams to become a reality”.
Since its launch in 2007, the GSF has provided over 16,000 athlete awards at a total support value of over £9 million across the UK.