Multiple Paralympic medallists Ellie Simmonds, Stephanie Millward and Michael McKillop head list of 36 Tokyo-bound Paralympians who have been supported by the UK’s largest independent athlete programme – the GLL Sport Foundation (GSF).
The GSF is the brain-child of GLL, the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering sport, leisure, culture, health and community facilities.
3,000 talented athletes are supported annually by the GSF programme
, of which an incredible 97% receive no other funding or support. The support given has provided a lifeline to the athletes and an inspiration to other young people in local communities.
In partnership with SportsAid, the Foundation works directly with the established national ‘talent pathways’ of Sport National Governing Bodies, local authorities, local sports charities and sponsors who partner the scheme across the UK.
The athlete awards cover Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic, Special Olympic and Commonwealth sporting disciplines.
Chosen athletes receive financial bursaries and free training memberships to use sport and leisure centre facilities across 260 GLL managed and partner-operated sporting venues.
GLL Deputy CEO and Chair of the GLL Sport Foundation Peter Bundey said: “Good luck to all athletes competing at the Tokyo Paralympics and especially to our Foundation-linked competitors.
“We are proud to support so many talented Paralympians. They are an inspiration and exemplify the sporting opportunities at our centres and the true community spirit of our social enterprise organisation.”
“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.”
GLL Sport Foundation athletes heading to the Tokyo Paralympic Games represent both ParalympicsGB and Paralympics Ireland. They include 10 time Paralympic medallist Stephanie Millward, 8 time Paralympic medallist Ellie Simmons, 4 time Paralympic champion Michael McKillop and the exciting Paralympic Games debutant Ben Pritchard.
10 time Paralympic medalist, Stephanie Millward said “The GLL Sport Foundation are a source of support, hope and friendship and without them I would not be here today focusing on my goal of Tokyo 2020”
Ben’s sporting journey has been a highly unusual one. A competitive sailor, international triathlete and road cyclist, on 10th September 2016 Ben’s life was turned upside down following a racing incident which left him paralysed from the rib cage down.
Setting a goal to get back into sport, Ben was supported from 2014 to 2017 including continued support throughout his transition into a Paralympic rower. In 2018 Ben had won Emerging Athlete of the Year Award from Disability Sports Wales.
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).
GSF Supported Athletes (current athletes and past alumni)
Athlete | Sport | Team
Aaron Mckibbin | Para Table Tennis | Para GB
Aled Davies | F63 Shot Put | Para GB
Ali Smith | 100m /400m | Para GB
Anna Nicholson | Para Shot Put | Para GB
Ashley Facey Thompson | Para Table Tennis | Para GB
Ben Fox | Wheelchair BBall | Para GB
Ben Pritchard | Para Rower | Para GB
Chris Skelley | Judo | Para GB
Claire Cashmore | Para Triathlon | Para GB
Columba Blango | T20 400m | Para GB
Dan Pembroke | F13 Javelin | Para GB
Dan Powell | Judo | Para GB
Dave Phillipson | Para Canoeing | Para GB
David Wetherill | Para Table Tennis | Para GB
Dimitri Coutya | Wheelchair Fencing | Para GB
Ellie Simmonds | Para Swimming | Para GB
Gaz Choudhry | Wheelchair BBall | Para GB
Grace Harvey | Para Swimming | Para GB
Hannah Russell | Para Swimming | Para GB
James (Jim) Roberts | Wheelchair Rugby | Para GB
Jessica-Jane Applegate | Para Swimming | Para GB
Jim Palmer | Wheelchair BBall | Para GB
Jordanne Whiley | Wheelchair Tennis | Para GB
Joshua Stacey | Para Table Tennis | Para GB
Joy Haizelden | Wheelchair BBall | Para GB
Louise Fiddes | Para Swimming | Para GB
Louise Sugden | Powerlifting | Para GB
Lucy Shuker | Wheelchair Tennis | Para GB
Melissa Reid | Triathlon | Para GB
Michael McKillop | 1500m | Para Ireland
Stephanie Millward | Para Swimming | Para GB
Suzanna Hext | Para Swimming | Para GB
Thomas Hamer | Para Swimming | Para GB
Tully Kearney | Para Swimming | Para GB
Vanessa Wallace | Para shot put | Para GB
Zak Skinner | T13 Long Jump and 100m | Para GB