As celebrations continue to mark athlete successes at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games, the GLL Sport Foundation has been proudly counting the impact of their athlete support programme.
The GLL Sport Foundation (GSF) is the UK’s largest independent athlete support programme and had an impressive group of ninety nine athletes competing at the Tokyo Games. It was also a resounding justification for years of commitment given to supporting talented local athletes with 17 medals won at the Tokyo Olympic Games and 26 medals at the Paralympic Games (43 medals). This included a total of 14 Gold medals across the Olympics and Paralympics.
The GSF is the brain-child of GLL, the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering sport, health and leisure facilities across 250 venues. In partnership with SportsAid, the Foundation works directly with the established national ‘talent pathways’ of Sport National Governing Bodies. It also works directly with over 40 local authorities and local sports charities who partner the scheme across the UK.
In 2021 the Foundation are supporting over 3,000 athletes of which an incredible 97% receive no other funding or support. It is easy therefore to see why the programme has been an essential lifeline to the athletes and why they are keen to work with the Foundation to inspire other young people in local communities. Since its inception in 2007, the GLL Sport Foundation has provided 18,000 athlete awards to 10,000 individual athletes.
Supported ambassador and Paralympics GB athlete Tully Kearney S5 100m freestyle Gold medallist said: “Having withdrawn from Rio 2016 Paralympics just a few weeks before due to a progression in my condition (Generalised Dystonia) I had to learn to swim again with my increased level of impairment and had to be reclassified.
“This was an extremely difficult time for me and I lost all my support from British Swimming, but GLL continued to believe in me and support me, for which I am so grateful.”
Another GSF supported ambassador and Team GB Olympic Gold medallist Charlotte Worthington is equally glowing about the support she has received through GLL ““I want to inspire people to get into BMX freestyle or sport in general, especially girls. The GSF award helped me financially but also to keep in the right head space knowing I have support.”
Peter Bundey, GSF Chair stated "We are delighted that these athletes delivered such fantastic medal-winning performances in Tokyo. Their performances will directly inspire so many other young people across our local communities to follow their dreams and develop their talents, whether they be sporting or non-sporting abilities.
Years ago, when we set up the Foundation with Patron Sally Gunnell, there were very few schemes that were able to have significant regional impact on talent development and proactively inspire local communities. Now, there are signs that others are starting to follow our blueprint and work alongside national talent pathways. That is good for national sport, the athletes and getting more young people into sport and physical exercise”.
The GLL Sport Foundation is committed to continue its support of athletes and local communities as part of their long term plan. In the short term plans will now focus on supporting the next generation of Olympians and Paralympian’s on their journeys towards Paris 2024.
For full details on supported athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and to access details on the 2022 athlete application period please view – www.gllsportfoundation.org