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Sports stars inspire winners of tomorrow at MyLotto24 workshop with SportsAid

News   •   Sep 30, 2015 16:43 BST

Twenty of Britain's brightest sporting prospects gathered at the Oval in south London this week for a chance to meet Paralympic legend Tanni Grey-Thompson and Olympic diver Leon Taylor at a workshop organised by MyLotto24's Winners of Tomorrow fund.

Hurdler Serita Solomon was also there to pass on the benefits of her experiences in athletics, having twice returned from serious injuries to win a bronze medal at this year's European Indoor Championships. She advised the athletes to remember their goals and persevere no matter what sport throws at them.

"Remember why you love sport and why you are doing it," she said. “It will keep you going when things get tough.”

Tanni and Leon agreed that focus is important but cautioned against losing sight of life beyond sport.

"Be aware of what's around you and try to keep a bit of balance," Tanni said.

"Train hard, but also enjoy it," Leon said. "Because one day you will be retired and you can't get it back."

Tanni agreed, adding, "Enjoy the moment, because there are thousands of people who would love to be where you are now. I don't think I enjoyed my career enough until I stopped."

Serita's career is still very much in full flow and she hopes to be representing Great Britain at the Olympics in Rio next year. She says without SportsAid’s help she might not have made it this far.

“The successes I am having now are largely to do with the support I had from SportsAid,” she said.

“For a long time, especially after my injuries, I really struggled with believing in myself and I knew a lot of people had written me off, so for SportsAid to come in and say ‘we see potential in you’ was a massive confidence boost. I was very fortunate that SportsAid supported me.

“I have always wanted to go to the Olympics and 2016 is my main goal,” she added.

Middlesex Women’s cricketer Alexandra Hartley said she enjoyed being back at the Oval after winning the Pemberton Greenish Cup there against Surrey earlier this season.

“It’s brought back good memories,” she said. “The workshop has been absolutely fantastic. It’s such a good opportunity to come here and to meet all the other athletes. There is such a wide variety of sports and it’s been really interesting to learn from their perspectives.

“The nutrition session was my highlight of the day. It’s nice to know there are some simple things I can do to help my recovery and help my sport.”

As well as learning about nutrition - from Lunchbox Doctor’s Jenny Tschiesche – the athletes joined a session on social media with former BBC producer Fiona Cotterill. Serita says she still uses the advice Fiona gave her at a similar SportsAid workshop in 2012.

“I remember the tips I took from the social media workshop that I still use every day when I’m on Twitter and Instagram,” she said. “It’s important to be aware of what you are saying and how easily accessible it is to everybody.

“I’m always learning and the workshops today were really beneficial for everybody. When these guys get to Olympic and Commonwealth stages they are going to meet athletes from different sports and I think it’s great now to have the opportunity to sit down and speak to each other.

“I thought today’s workshop was amazing and I feel honoured that SportsAid invited me to be a part of it.”

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