Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent today joined athletes from every one of the 47 Olympic and Paralympic sports, as they featured in an iconic photo to celebrate how National Lottery funding has transformed sport, boosted our medal chances and helped to make the London 2012 Games possible.
Athletes hoping to compete on home soil next year came together with one of Britain’s greatest ever Olympians to recreate a school photo to represent The National Lottery’s ‘Class of 2012’.
Most athletes present will have benefited from National Lottery funding directly, whilst athletes from sports such as tennis and football appeared on behalf of the Lottery investment into their sports at a grassroots level, transforming community sport and enabling facilities to be created.
Since Lottery funding began in 1994, 438 Olympic and Paralympic medals have been won by GB and Northern Ireland athletes
The National Lottery is also investing £2.2 billion in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Lottery players are enabling 1,200 elite athletes to train to the highest of international standards.
Headmaster Sir Matthew Pinsent today welcomed the athletes and passed on inspirational words to them at iconic City of London School, boasting a historic school hall where the class photo was created.
The rowing legend said, “I am honoured to be able to celebrate The National Lottery’s investment with these talented athletes who are hoping to take centre stage next year. Beijing 2008 was our most successful Olympics ever and I am backing our current hopefuls to do even better in London. The Lottery really has been the catalyst for the change in British sporting success. Lottery funding has made a tremendous impact at all levels of sport, transforming parks and sporting facilities and allowing local clubs to prosper across the UK.”
Team GB will field men’s and women’s football sides for the first time since 1972 and selection for the team is much coveted by potential players.
Arsenal and England player Kieran Gibbs said, “To represent Team GB in the football competition next year would be one of the highlights of a British footballer’s career. I am fortunate to be at an age that means I could be considered, subject to club commitments. Any British footballer would take a lot of pride in pulling on the British vest and leading the GB team to success next year. It’s with thanks to National Lottery funding that football at a grassroots level in this country is thriving and it’s been fantastic to celebrate that investment here today.”
Modern Pentathlete Freyja Prentice has already attained the 2012 Olympic qualifying standard by finishing eighth at the Modern Pentathlon European Championships in July this year and is hoping to be confirmed for Team GB next year.
The Scottish athlete said, “Thanks to Lottery players, we are getting ready for the biggest exams of our sporting careers. It was fantastic to learn first-hand from Sir Matthew Pinsent about his Olympic experiences; we’ve had an inspirational lesson here today.”
Triple World champion and Paralympic and Commonwealth archery champion Danielle Brown will look to defend her Paralympic title if selected for ParalympicsGB and said, “I would like Lottery players to realise how their money has turned our sporting ambitions to reality. All my ‘classmates’ here today are determined to make Lottery players proud of the Class of 2012.”
National Lottery players have raised £27 billion for Good Causes since the Lottery started in 1994. Over £6 billion of this has been invested in sport.
For further information on National Lottery funding visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk
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