Charitable Social Enterprise GLL has positively backed supporting the next generation of athletes with the announcement it will invest over £5million into athletes across the UK through its athlete support programme the GLL Sport Foundation within the Tokyo cycle.

GLL is the UKs largest leisure operator and leading Social Enterprise operating across a network of 61 areas with partners.  Athletes across this network will be eligible to receive tangible support.

The GLL Sport Foundation is the UKs largest independent athlete support programme since the programme launched in 2008, 10,600 athlete awards have been provided at a total support value of £6.1 million.  90% of award recipients don’t receive any other centralised support and with 75% of supported athletes aged under 21 the programme is focussed on the next generation of athletes across all Olympic, Paralympic, Deaflympic and Special Olympic sporting disciplines.

Team GBs most decorated male taekwondo athlete of all time Lutalo Muhammad explains his experience of the programme first hand “When I first started to compete internationally as a junior the GLL Sport Foundation was my only source of funding and I can sincerely say ‘but for’ them I would not of transitioned from a skinny kid that loved sport to a double Olympic medallist”.  I will never forget their support, they are still with me now and will be there towards my goal of gold in Tokyo”.

GLL Sport Foundation Patron Sally Gunnell explains the role the programme has to play “The support from the GLL Sport Foundation is essential for young athletes, and can sometimes be the difference between being talented, and taking the sport up to the elite level. I have experienced first hand the financial struggle of being on the fringes of elite sport, and support programmes such as the GLL Sport Foundation relieves some of the burden so that more time can be spent on performing at the highest level possible”.

The programme supported 59 and 45 athletes that competed at the Games in London and Rio respectively winning 33 medals combined and with this announcement GLL is focussed on increasing this number towards Tokyo and on to the 2024 Games.

The programme directly partners SportsAid, Mary Peters Trust and SportsAid Wales and through these partnerships provides tangible support to athletes across the UK that are within National Governing Bodies of Sport talent pathways from a junior to senior level.

Athletes from across the UK can apply for support through the GLL Sport Foundation from 20th December via the online portal, applications close 20th February 2017.  Supported athletes access financial support, training membership support to Better leisure centres across the UK and also sport science and physiotherapy programmes.