Better leisure centres in Lambeth are proud to be supporting 72 local athletes as they strive for sporting success with a share of £1,200,000 from GLL Sport Foundation (GSF), the largest independent talent programme in the UK, in partnership with Sports Aid and Lambeth Council.

With the Rio Olympics and Paralympics on the horizon, many of the GSF supported athletes will use their awards to assist in their preparations for the Games. GSF awards provide a range of elements including funding for training camps, to sport science and physio support. There is one supported local athlete focused on qualifying for Rio 2016 and due to the number of young athletes on the programme there are significantly more are targeting the 2020 and 2024 Games.

The supported athletes represent more than 20 Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic and Special Olympic sporting disciplines. Most of the funding is designed to help young developing talent and 68% 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 91% 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 just for Rio but for future generations: “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, 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, GLL Sport Foundation Chair, paid tribute to the athletes: “Congratulations to all of the athletes receiving awards. We know first hand the commitment, effort and sacrifices they are making to harness their talent. I would like to also thank all our partners, sponsors and supporters for their support for the programme. Sports Aid provide the direct links to Sport Governing Body talent pathways, our corporate sponsors and numerous local authority, university and sporting partners directly contribute to support these sporting dreams to become a reality”.

GSF supported ambassador, 31 year old 800m runner Marilyn Okoro described how the GSF is supporting athletes such as her along her sporting journey: “I owe a huge thank you already to GLL who generously and promptly supported me with a gym membership during the summer of 2015. This hugely aided my rehabilitation and thanks to classes such as spinning and yoga, as well as a high quality gym equipment access, my return to running was seamless and very smooth.”

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 Better leisure centres 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.