55 talented young athletes from Ealing have benefitted from a £37,200 award pot – thanks to charitable social enterprise GLL through its athlete support programme the GLL Sport Foundation (GSF) the largest independent programme in the UK, in partnership with SportsAid and Ealing Council.

The supported athletes represent sports across Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic and Special Olympic sporting disciplines. Most of the funding is designed to help young developing talent and 75% of awards are to athletes aged under 21. These are difficult ages for young athletes, when funding is not easily available and the costs of competition and training are high. Indeed 98% of GSF award recipients receive no other sport funding.

GSF Patron and former Olympic champion Sally Gunnell explained the core role the Foundation takes in supporting the next generation of athletes and thus ensuring a sporting legacy is in place not only for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in 16 months time but towards the 2020 Tokyo and the 2024 Games. “It is vitally important that we inspire young people to excel in sport and harness their talent towards future Games”. “From starting out as a young athlete and progressing through my sport, support through your development years is crucial; I am delighted that through this programme I am able to champion such support for sporting talent.” Peter Bundey, Chair of the GLL Sport Foundation, paid tribute to the core role partner organisations play for the GSF “I would like to thank all our partners, sponsors and supporters as their roles are crucial to the success of this programme. SportsAid provide the direct links to Sport Governing Body talent pathways, our corporate sponsors and numerous local authority, university and sporting partners vitally finance and support these sporting dreams become a reality”.

GSF and Ealing supported athlete and junior GB wheelchair fencer Dimitri Coutya aged 17 has his sights firmly set on future Paralympic success “I aspire to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympic games and beyond. The award allows me to continue to fund my training including transport costs both nationally and abroad, accommodation and competition fees”. Another GSF and Ealing supported athlete and junior GB diver Georgia Ward aged 19 has clear aspirations, and the Foundation is supporting her journey “Receiving this award allows me to train to my full potential as it helps pay for kit, equipment, travel, food and accommodation to different competitions. My future aspirations are to compete at more Diving Grand Prix’s, the European Diving Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games”.

Supported athletes receive award packages that include financial grants of up to £1,250 used to fund competition expenses and sporting costs, training memberships enabling venue access across GLL and partner operated venues to supplement their core training programmes; and access to sports science, performance sport and employment opportunities all focussed towards supporting their athlete journey.