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16 for 2016
Sixteen young athletes have been tipped to make their mark at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games by SportsAid and Sport England.
The “16 for 2016” are all supported by SportsAid, a charity which gives financial assistance to talented youngsters aged 12 to 18, to help them meet the costs of pursuing their sporting dreams.
The rising stars were named as Sport England announced an investment of half a million pounds of government funding into SportsAid over the next two years.
In the last 12 months, SportsAid has distributed awards worth more than £1.3 million to some 1,979 young sports stars who are starting their journey in performance sport, but who are not yet eligible for the Lottery funding awarded to elite athletes.
Sport England’s support will help the charity continue to raise money from individuals, events and particularly commercial organisations to provide greater support to more athletes in the coming years.
Awards are made to youngsters aged 12 to 18 from across 50 able-bodied and 25 disability sports. These athletes compete in national squads and the awards, generally worth £500, help with costs such as travel, training, accommodation, competition fees and equipment.
Recipients join a star-studded list of athletes who have benefited from SportsAid’s help over its 33 year history, including Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Victoria Pendleton, Denise Lewis and the Government’s new 2012 Sports Champion, Sir Steve Redgrave.
Sir Steve said; “Sport England’s funding means more young people can look forward to the same support from SportsAid that helped me when I was at the start of my career. We need to give these youngsters all the help we can to help them progress onto elite programmes and fulfil their potential.”
Although the awards may seem modest, SportsAid Chief Executive Tim Lawlor says they often make the difference between a young athlete continuing in their sport or quitting. “It not only relieves some of the pressure that comes with financing their training and competition costs, which our research shows can be over £5,000 a year, it also recognises their achievements and hard work,” he says.
Lisa O’Keefe, Sport England’s Director of Sport agrees. “For many talented youngsters, a SportsAid award brings both the first external recognition of their sporting potential and vital financial support which can help them fulfil that potential,” she says. “The more we do to nurture these young sports men and woman, the more success we can look forward to celebrating.”
With attention focused sharply on London 2012, now less than 1000 days away, this funding is an investment in sporting success beyond.
“We have to give young sporting talent the best possible chance to get to the highest level,” says Minister for Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe MP. London 2012 is on the horizon, but we also need to look beyond that and identify young British athletes who could succeed in Rio in 2016.”