Ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics and Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games, applications now open for athlete support in 2022/23 – from winter sports to swimming to track and field.
Talented athletes from across 65 areas of the UK are invited to apply for training support under the GLL Sport Foundation (GSF) Awards programme.
Better Leisure customers’ facilities are provided by the UK’s biggest charitable leisure social enterprise – GLL.
The UK’s largest independent athlete award programme – which since 2008 has contributed over £12m to help 16,000 athletes on their sporting journey – is open until 20 February 2022.
Provided by GLL, £1.2m worth of help is on offer to 3,000 applicants – including Better Gym memberships, physiotherapy and more.
The GLL Sport Foundation has a significant impact on communities, supporting young people to reach their sporting potential highlighted by 96% of recipients receiving no other centralised funding. That funding relives the pressure on athletes and enables them to focus on their sport and training. Supporting young athletes is a key aim of GSF with 63% under 21YO and often being supported throughout their career for many years.
Figure skaters Lewis Gibson and Lilah Fear from Kensington & Chelsea attest to this and have been supported by GSF for over 4 years. This year they’re celebrating being selected for the Beijing Winter Olympics which starts on 4 February. They said: “GSF has been a great support to us and enabled us to train off the ice in Better gyms. This has helped to ease the financial stress that comes with competing internationally. We’re proud to be part of the GLL family and thank them for being a part of our journey to Beijing.”
Also heading to China are four GSF supported Bobsleigh athletes. In the men’s team Brad Hall, Nick Gleeson and Greg Cackett and in the women’s team, Montell Douglas.
Speaking at the reopening of Tiller Leisure Centre in Tower Hamlets, GSF supported Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Medallist Ali Smith said: “I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve done without the support of the GLL Sport Foundation and the use of Tower Hamlets’ facilities.
“The programme has been brilliant and has helped so many athletes on their sporting journey.”
In the wake of a difficult two years, GLL continued with the programme in 2020 and 2021, investing into the development of local talent, aspiring to follow supported athletes such as Joe Choong , Lutalo Muhammad and Matty Lee.
The impact of the Foundation is significant and highlighted by GSF Patron Sally Gunnell OBE who remains the only athlete to hold consecutive Olympic, World and Commonwealth titles. She said: “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 athletes. It can make a difference in achieving sporting ambitions. “This is ever-more important today as we recover from a difficult and challenging two years, where dreams have been put on hold and sport had to stop. Athletes can now refocus having re-started competition and working towards those goals with the support of the GLL Sport Foundation.”
GSF Chair Peter Bundey said: “Our supported athletes delivered such fantastic medal-winning performances in Tokyo we are sure they will inspire other young people across our local communities to apply for these athlete awards so they can follow their dreams. “Years ago, when we set up the Foundation with Patron Sally Gunnell, there were very few schemes that were able to have the same impact on talent development. Now others are following the example of the GLL Sport Foundation and working alongside national talent pathways to ensure a pipeline for sporting excellence as well as getting more young people into the sport and physical exercise”.