36 talented young athletes from Bath and North East Somerset will benefit from a £26,000 fund – thanks to charitable social enterprise, GLL. The athletes will be supported through the ground breaking GLL Sport Foundation (GSF), the largest independent athlete support programme in the UK.

The athlete awards cover Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic, Special Olympic and Commonwealth sporting disciplines. With a staggering 89% of award recipients receiving no other sport funding and 73% of recipients being aged under 21, the Sport Foundation has highlighted a vital funding gap for young talented athletes currently competing and National and international levels.

University of Bath student Joe Choong (Modern Pentathlon) is a sponsored GSF athlete. “2016 was a big year for me. I won my first senior competition, as well as being the highest finishing Brit at the Olympic Games in Rio. I feel that this year has been the first year where I have actually been competing for serious places in the final of most competitions, rather than just going to gain experience of senior competitions. The award provides funding to purchase the latest equipment, allowing me to continue competing at the highest level throughout the build up to Tokyo 2020.”

GSF Patron and former Olympic Champion, Sally Gunnell, explained the core role the GSF takes in supporting the next generation of athletes and thus ensuring a sporting legacy is in place for future generation: “It is vitally important that we inspire young people to excel in sport and harness their talent towards future success.

From starting out as a young athlete and progressing through my sport, I know that support through your development years is crucial. I am delighted that through this programme I am able to champion such support for future sporting talent”.

Peter Bundey, GSF Chair, paid tribute to the athletes, programme stakeholders and also highlighted the impact the Foundation is making: “Congratulations to all of the athletes receiving awards. We know first hand the commitment, effort and sacrifices they are making to perform at their best.

I would like to thank all our partners and sponsors for their support for the programme. SportsAid, SportsAid Wales and Mary Peters Trust provide the direct links to Sport Governing Body talent pathways, whilst our many corporate sponsors headlined by GLL and Technogym, numerous local authorities, university and physiotherapy partners directly contribute to support these sporting dreams to become a reality”.

Since its launch in 2007, the GSF has provided over 13,000 athlete awards at a total support value of over £7.5 million across the UK.

The Rio Olympics and Paralympics were a historic successes for Team GB, and the GSF supported athletes also broke the Foundation’s record medal haul with 20 medals won between them.

Supported athletes receive Award packages that include financial grants of up to £1,250, free training memberships enabling access across 300 GLL and partner operated sporting venues along with access to sports science, medical support and employment opportunities all focussed towards supporting their athlete journey.