15 talented young athletes from Islington including discus thrower Amy Holder and fencer Dominic de Almeida will benefit from a cumulative £7,350 worth of free memberships for sports venues and leisure centres, cash bursaries and other athlete services - thanks to leisure charitable social enterprise GLL, which manages centres across Islington in partnership with the council.
Athletes will be supported through the GLL Sport Foundation, the largest independent athlete support programme in the UK. With a staggering 87% of award recipients receiving no other sport funding and 56% of recipients being aged under 21, the GLL Sport Foundation has highlighted a vital funding gap for young talented athletes and the need to tackle inequalities in sport.
Two notable athletes from Islington receiving support include Team GB fencer Dominic de Almeida and Team GB discus thrower Amy Holder.
Dominic said on receiving his award: “Receiving the funding and support from GLL is really a game changer for me. As an athlete in a sport which has lost its funding, building my own support network is a real challenge, but now having access to world class facilities on my doorstep and a financial boost will certainly make this challenge a little easier”.
Amy highlighted how the award helps her “This award has helped me massively by providing a multitude of venues with all the facilities and equipment I need. I have worked with GLL for a number of years and they have continued to provide all the support I need to reach my athletic goals”.
Peter Bundey, GSF Chair, paid tribute to the athletes, programme stakeholders and also highlighted the impact the Foundation is making to reduce inequalities across a wide range of sports.
He said: “These last 2 years since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic have had an unprecedented impact across sport especially with younger emerging talent.
“For young talented athletes, restrictions of their training, travel and competitions appear to have impacted significantly.
“But these awards offer a welcome boost for athletes to continue the richly diverse sports they love and excel in – allowing us to reach deep into communities across the UK to remove barriers to participation”.
GSF Patron and former Olympic Champion Sally Gunnell explained the impact of GSF support on the next generation of athletes and the communities they live in: She said: “Sport is such an important part of all our lives and has the power to inspire young people to excel and harness their talent towards their future. From my own experience starting out as a young athlete and progressing through my sport, I understand how important the recognition and support from organisations like the GLL Sport Foundation can be to a young athlete. It can make the difference in achieving sporting ambitions”.
While GSF focuses mainly on supporting young and upcoming grassroots athletes in the local community, many have gone on to Olympics and Paralympics success. Award holders past and present have amassed an impressive 77 medals between them – including Tom Daley, Ellie Simmonds, Susie Rogers, Michael McKillop, Dina Asher-Smith and Charlotte Worthington.