Powerlifter named SportsAid's One-to-Watch
The top three of the prestigious award have all received Sport England funding to help them in their progression as young athletes.
European champion powerlifter Mark Swan, who receives Sport England funding via SportsAid, has been named the charity’s One-to-Watch athlete following a stellar year.
Mark, 21, led a one-two-three of athletes from our Backing the Best scheme, which sees financial awards administered to talented young athletes by SportsAid, as para-athlete Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker was named as runner-up and rhythmic gymnast Marfa Ekimova took third.
The award recognises the achievements of Britain’s brightest young sporting prospects, with previous winners including Tom Daley, Hollie Arnold, Courtney Tulloch and Alex Yee.
In total, the previous winners have amassed more than 50 senior Olympic, Paralympic, world, European and Commonwealth medals between them, with Mark adding to that tally with his European gold and Commonwealth silver in the -65kg and lightweight categories, respectively.
He’s also won world junior gold this year and knows how much the support from SportsAid has contributed to his successes.
“It means a lot to me,” he said at last week’s ‘Supporting the Next’ ceremony in London. “To have the backing from SportsAid, it just gave me the great opportunity to maximise what I can at the minute and push me to where I am now.
“Having this now, coming down and meeting the team behind SportsAid, meeting them face-to-face and speaking to them, it’s given me a lot more motivation now to push forward as a SportsAid-funded athlete.
“I want to try and push the charity forward and show that they’re doing such a great thing in helping young athletes such as myself.
“There’s more motivation than there ever has been – at Paris 2024 I’m going to really try and get that gold medal.”
Mark’s win makes in a hat-trick of Backing the Best winners of the award, following boxer Caroline Dubois in 2018 and para-swimmer Ellie Challis the following year.
"I want to try and push the charity forward and show that they’re doing such a great thing in helping young athletes such as myself."
Powerlifter, SportsAid One-to-Watch 2022 winner
With no awards during the last two years because of the pandemic, Mark also appreciated the opportunity to meet like-minded athletes at the event.
“It’s been a really great night,” he added. “It’s been my first award ceremony like this.
“I never experienced anything like this before, but just to get this opportunity to come down and meet and talk to other athletes like myself who are doing amazing in their career so far, it just kind of gives us motivation that we’re all going to push forward together now.”
The top three in this year’s award were part of five Backing the Best athletes in the 10-strong shortlist, which was whittled down from around 1,000 applicants across more than 60 sports.
The winner was then selected by an expert panel of judges that included Olympians, Paralympians, Commonwealth champions and award-winning sports journalists.
As winner, Mark received £1,000, while Emmanuel was awarded £750 and Marfa £500 – the whole of the top 10 also received a pair of trainers and a personal massage gun to aid with their training and recovery.
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