Charitable Social Enterprise GLL has positively backed the next generation of athletes with the announcement it will invest over £5million into athletes across the UK through its athlete support programme the GLL Sport Foundation within the Tokyo cycle.

GLL is the UKs largest leisure operator, leading Social Enterprise and athletes across its network of 61 areas of the UK will be able to benefit from support. Applications for the programme opened on December 20th 2016 and close February 20th 2017. Last year, the GLL Sport Foundation in partnership with Hammersmith and Fulham Council supported 21 Hammersmith & Fulham athletes including up and coming swimmer, Alesha Kelly.

Alesha has explained how the GLL Sport Foundation has helped her through her sporting career, “I have been competitively swimming since I was 8. From an early age I found myself quite successful in my butterfly events particularly. My ultimate goal is to compete in the Olympics, and I am prepared to pass all obstacles I encounter on the way to fulfilling this dream. The award will enable me to train in a range of venues, including 50 metre pool as I do not have regular access to these facilities currently which has disadvantaged me in the past. It will also allow me to purchase the equipment that will help give me the best possible chance to reach my goals, short and long term.”

The GLL Sport Foundation is the UKs largest independent athlete support programme and directly partners SportsAid, Mary Peters Trust and SportsAid Wales and through these partnerships provides tangible support to athletes across the UK that are within National Governing Bodies of Sport talent pathways from a junior to senior level.

Since the programme launched in 2008, 10,600 athlete awards have been provided support, to the value of £6.1 million. 75% of supported athletes are under 21 and the programme supports athletes across all Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympics and Special Olympic sports. 

The programme supported 59 and 45 athletes that competed at the Games in London and Rio respectively winning 33 medals combined, and with this announcement GLL are focussed on increasing these numbers towards Tokyo and onto the 2024 Olympic Games.

GLL Sport Foundation Patron Sally Gunnell explained the role the programme has to play “The support from the GLL Sport Foundation is essential for young athletes, and can sometimes be the difference between being talented, and taking the sport up to elite level. I have experienced first hand the financial struggle of being on the fringes of elite sport, and support programmes such as the GLL Sport Foundation relieves some of the burden so that more time can be spent on performing at the highest level possible”.

Athletes from across the UK can apply for support through the GLL Sport Foundation online

Supported athletes have access to financial support, training and membership at Better leisure centres across the UK as well as sport science and physiotherapy programmes.