The celebrations held across the UK for Team GB’s & Team Ireland’s Tokyo Olympic Games heroes have also been welcomed by the UK’s largest independent athlete support programme - the GLL Sport Foundation.
The culmination of 13 years and £12m of investment, given to supporting talented local athletes, saw a total of 69 medals won at the Japan showcase from Team GB and Team Ireland, including a group of sixty three competing athletes who received support from the Foundation.
3,000 talented athletes are funded annually by the GLL Sport Foundation programme of which an incredible 97% receive no other funding or support. The support has provided a lifeline to the athletes and an inspiration to other young people in local communities.
The GSF is the brain-child of GLL, the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering sport, leisure, culture, health and community facilities.
In partnership with SportsAid, the Foundation works directly with the established national ‘talent pathways’ of Sport National Governing Bodies, local authorities and local sports charities who partner the scheme across the UK.
GLL operates 260 sport and leisure facilities across the UK in partnership with 42 local authorities in Belfast, Cardiff and London – and spanning England from Carlisle to Cornwall.
GLL managed Centres operate under the consumer brand ‘Better’, each one offers personal fitness and wellbeing – with gym, swim, classes, courts and pitches to enjoy, indoors and out – or family fun during summer staycations at lidos, trampoline parks and Watersport centres.
They also provide a training ground for talented athletes heading to national and international competition.
Because GLL is a charitable leisure social enterprise, it seeks to reinvest part of its operating surpluses into grassroots sports development, concessions and uniquely impactful programmes, including the GLL Sport Foundation (GSF).
The athlete awards cover Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic, Special Olympic and Commonwealth sporting disciplines.
With and the majority of award recipients receiving no other sport funding and 63% of recipients being aged under 21, the GLL Sport Foundation addresses a vital funding gap for young talented athletes currently competing and National and International levels.
Chosen athletes receive financial bursaries and free training memberships to use leisure centre facilities across 260 plus GLL and partner-operated sporting venues.
GLL Deputy CEO and Chair of the GLL Sport Foundation Peter Bundey said: “Congratulations to all athletes competing at the Tokyo Olympics and especially to our Foundation competitors and medal winners.
“We are proud to support so many talented athletes. They are an inspiration and exemplify the best in our centres and the true community spirit of our social enterprise.”
“Our customers can be proud of the difference they are making because their visit helps sponsor a young athlete on their sporting journey which has been nurtured – or in many cases has started - in one of our pools, courts, tracks or gyms.
“It’s never been a better time for young people to get involved in sport for their fitness and wellbeing and GLL is working with our sports partners and local authorities to make this a reality with a wide offer of accessible sports and leisure in convenient locations across the country.”
Amongst the GLL Sport Foundation athletes that have enjoyed incredible success includes; Divers Tom Daley and Matty Lee, BMX Freestylist Charlotte Worthington and Swimmer Tom Dean –
GSF Award Holder Tom Dean, successful 2 time Gold Olympic medallist in the swimming pool said: “I am proud to be supported by a Foundation that has helped so many talented athletes along their journey.”
GSF Award Holder Charlotte Worthington who amazed the Nation with BMX Freestyle Gold said: “I want to inspire people to get into BMX freestyle or sport in general, especially girls.”
GSF Patron and former Olympic Champion Sally Gunnell OBE said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for the GLL Sport Foundation to have provided 63 Olympic athletes with support through their journey to Tokyo.
“It is a testament to the hard work athletes put in daily and highlights the impact that the support of programmes such as this can have.
“All eyes now turn to the Tokyo Paralympics, starting 24 August, where the GLL Sport Foundation will have a further 36 athletes competing”.
Paralympian Vanessa Wallace, Shot Put Seated Throw said: “I have now secured my place in Tokyo and have my sights set on a podium finish at the Paralympic Games. The GLL Sport Foundation has contributed significantly towards me being able to continue my journey to qualify for the Paralympics GB team for Tokyo 2020.”