Some of Britain’s most promising young athletes got to meet their MPs at the House of Commons this week at a special reception with SportsAid partner MyLotto24.
The event was attended by around 20 Peers and Members of Parliament and drew further support from former Olympic champion swimmer Duncan Goodhew, former world champion rower Annie Vernon and former Paralympic athletics champions Tanni Grey-Thompson and Danny Crates.
Host John Leech MP said the athletes made a big impression on him.
“You can’t be anything other than impressed,” he said. “These athletes get up at five in the morning, do the equivalent of a full day’s work in training and then do all of the other things they have to do in their lives as well, it’s amazing. When I was 18 years old the thought of doing a full day’s training and a full day’s school work was never on the agenda, so I’m very, very impressed.”
One of those athletes is 15-year-old Olympic hopeful Charlotte Hayward from Newent in Gloucestershire who competes in speed skating. During the event she said her SportsAid Award from MyLotto24 has been a particular help with her equipment costs, enabling her to buy a new handmade pair of boots “which help me to skate better and ultimately to progress.”
She added, “And because I travel 70 miles every week just to get to training and then competitions as well, I wouldn’t have been able to do all this without the money that MyLotto24 have given me through SportsAid.
“To know MPs are backing us will help promote our sports and hopefully bring new people into them. On a personal level, it’s great to know your community is behind you too.”
Like Charlotte, Paralympic gold medallist Danny Crates received support from SportsAid early in his career and said, “Support from companies like MyLotto24 is hugely important to SportsAid because it says to the young athletes ‘we believe in you so much we’re going to give you some money’ and that is a big incentive to them to keep going.
“When a big company says we think you’ve got a chance to be someone, that is huge for a young athlete at a stage when, as teenagers, life itself is becoming more interesting and their friends are starting to go out more, but sport is pulling them away from all that. We’ve all been there as young athletes and it’s a really tough time. This is where SportsAid has always stepped in and SportsAid can’t do that without brands like MyLotto24.”
John Leech MP added, “You only have to look at the success of all the athletes who have won medals at the Olympics and other big sporting events who have actually had the support from SportsAid, and how successful it’s been, that getting more companies involved in financially supporting SportsAid will no doubt have an impact on sport in the UK. I think it’s really important that we do our bit.”
Interviews and information on SportsAid
Athletes who attended the event at the House of Commons on January 28:
- Akwasi Yeboah (basketball) – Epping Forest
- Alice Handy (hockey) – Beckenham in London
- Andrew Grant (para triathlon) – Liverpool
- Angus Gillams (squash) – Hertsmere
- Charles Thurston (rowing) – Richmond Park
- Charlotte Harbottle (waterskiing) – South Northamptonshire
- Charlotte Hayward (speed skating) – Forest of Dean
- Ciaran Pryce (wheelchair rugby) – Hamilton West
- Danica Brazier (waterpolo) – Maldon
- Danielle Opara (athletics) – Reading West
- Emma Dolan (boxing) – Mid Norfolk
- Esme Lower (synchronised swimming) – Wokingham
- Euan Dickson-Earle (athletics) – Mid Bedfordshire
- Frank Longstaff (cycling) – Witham
- Gwilym Pari (weightlifting) – Dwyfor Meirionnydd
- Harry Bird (fencing) – Brent Central
- Heidi Long (rowing) – Chesham and Amersham
- Khai Riley-Laborde (athletics) – Thurrock
- Rebbekah Menday (snowboarding) – Buckingham
- Sarah Collin (modern pentathlon) – Beaconsfield
- Sarah White (diving) – New Forest East
SportsAid (Patron: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge)
SportsAid is a national charity dedicated to helping young people achieve their ambitions in sport. The charity helps the very best of the next generation of British athletes from more than 60 sports – most of which are Olympic and Paralympic disciplines. These athletes typically receive no other funding and are heavily reliant on their parents for support – not just financial but also for their transport, kit, nutrition, you name it!
The really amazing thing about this is that most are already representing Great Britain and if they can continue doing so, are likely to become our future Olympic and Paralympic champions. At London 2012, almost two-thirds of the British team were former – and in a few cases current – recipients of SportsAid’s support, winning 20 Olympic and 27 Paralympic gold medals between them. SportsAid funds these athletes entirely through donations and last year gave awards of around £1,000 to more than 1,400 young people throughout the UK. But it can only continue doing so with your support.
To get involved: