SportsAid Week raising money to help support the next generation of British sports stars on the road to Tokyo and beyond
SportsAid is encouraging the British public to support the country’s sporting future by undertaking fundraising activities to help the next generation of Olympians and Paralympians targeting Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
The charity’s inaugural SportsAid Week, launched to help mark SportsAid’s 40th anniversary in 2016, takes place from Monday 26 September to Sunday 2 October. The money generated will contribute towards the training and competition costs of young talented British sports stars.
SportsAid alumni were highly successful at the Rio Olympic Games with 46 of the 67 medals won by Team GB coming from athletes previously helped by the charity including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Adam Peaty, Mo Farah, Katherine Grainger, Bradley Wiggins, Max Whitlock, Laura Trott and Giles Scott.
A number of schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, sports clubs and individuals have lined up fundraising activities for SportsAid Week including sponsored bike rides and runs, sports demonstrations, poker tournaments, fancy dress days and bucket collections.
Hollie Webb, who won Olympic gold with Team GB’s women’s hockey in Rio, and Jon Schofield, a silver medallist in the K2 200m canoe sprint, are running Tough Mudder for SportsAid. They’re being joined by fellow SportsAid alumni Louisa Gurski and Lani Belcher, and Rachel Cawthorn.
Gail Emms has volunteered to take on Swim Serpentine, Mark Foster will be hosting a sports quiz in Southend, and Keri-anne Payne, David Florence and Leon Taylor are going to assist staff from MyLotto24, a commercial partner of SportsAid, on their ‘Ride, Run and Row to Rio’.
The initiative, which will also look to shine a spotlight on the athletes aiming to reach Tokyo, has received the backing of Team GB gymnast Louis Smith and ParalympicsGB swimmer Ellie Simmonds, both of whom were given support by SportsAid during the early stages of their careers.
“Committing to sport at a high level can be a real challenge when you’re young,” said Louis – who received SportsAid awards in 2007 and 2008. “It’s not just the costs you face, but having the belief in yourself to keep training and competing to fulfil the potential you have.”
SportsAid Week champion Louis added: “The support I received from my family, friends and coaches was crucial, and SportsAid acted as an extra vote of confidence when I needed it. They recognised me for my talent and I felt that somebody else believed I could make it.”
SportsAid alumni also made a big contribution towards the ParalympicsGB medal haul with 44 gold, 28 silver and 32 bronze coming from them. Ellie received her award in 2006 when she was just 11 – two years before she burst onto the scene by winning double gold at Beijing 2008.
“The support SportsAid gave to me when I was younger made a real difference so early on in my career,” said Ellie. “They recognised the potential I had and helped contribute towards covering the costs a young athlete and their family can face when training and competing.
“SportsAid Week is a great way for people across the country to show their support for the next generation of British athletes straight after Rio. There will be lots of fun and exciting activities going on to help increase awareness of SportsAid and raise funds for the sports stars of the future.”
Prior to the arrival of National Lottery support in 1997, SportsAid was the major source of funding for most of the country’s top athletes, including Steve Redgrave and Tanni Grey-Thompson, from 1976 onwards. The charity’s focus turned to the next generation after UK Sport was established.
SportsAid is supporting over 1,000 athletes – the vast majority aged 12 to 18 – in 2016. They are considered to be the country’s brightest prospects and are nominated to the charity by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports. The typical value of a SportsAid award is £1,000.
Most of the athletes supported by SportsAid receive no other funding which means they rely heavily on their parents and the award to help cover the costs associated with their sport such as transportation, accommodation and equipment.