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Cash boost to help Medway's athletes reach gold

Date: 27/08/2008           Category: Leisure

A national charity which has helped some of Great Britain's greatest ever Olympians is to offer financial support to Medway's leading athletes in an exciting new partnership. SportsAid, whose past beneficiaries include 17 of the 19 Team GB gold medallists from Beijing, is to treble the financial support available to athletes on Medway Council’s elite athlete support programme. The aim is to help Medway’s young athletes aged 12 to 18 reach their potential at national and international level and to raise their profile nationally. In the first partnership of its kind between the charity and a local authority in the south east and one of only a handful of such arrangements in the whole country, SportsAid will make a grant of £500 to support eligible Medway athletes who already receive £250 of funding support from the council. Medway’s elite athlete support programme, which was launched in September 2007, also provides athletes with sports science and therapy support from the University of Kent at Medway and free access to council-run leisure facilities, plus increased local athletes’ media and sporting profile. The additional funding will assist athletes with travel, training, accommodation, competition fees and equipment costs. To qualify, athletes currently not on World Class Lottery programmes must be nominated by their sport’s governing body. As part of the new partnership, Medway Council will also be able to identify potentially eligible athletes. Medway 2012 manager Bob Dimond said: “We are delighted to be joining up with SportsAid to deliver even greater support to Medway’s young elite athletes. “Medway is creating the facilities and the environment in which its best sports men and women can reach the top of their chosen sports, and this endorsement from SportsAid highlights the success of our athlete support and will further raise the profile and aspirations of our future stars.” SportsAid was established in 1976 to support the next generation of sporting talent to succeed. It channels funds from the commercial sector into the country's aspiring athletes, supporting athletes who do not receive Lottery funding. Past recipients include five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, Medway International Sporting Ambassador Steve Backley, plus Beijing gold medal-winning cyclists Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, and sailors Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy. SportsAid Chief Executive Tim Lawler said: “As the lead agency that supports emerging talent in sport it is important that we work in partnership with other organisations who run initiatives with similar objectives but perhaps on a smaller scale. “Our role is to ensure that the right athletes, with great potential and need, receive support when they need it most. This is why we work with sport’s National Governing Bodies to identify these future champions. “Working with Medway Council is fantastic as it allows us to build on the impact of the role that we play on a local level and complements the support that they are already offering their talented athletes.” To read more about Medway’s athlete support programme and young athletes, visit www.medway.gov.uk/london2012. For more information about SportsAid, visit www.sportsaid.org.uk.