Our Story

SportsAid is the only national charity (#1111612) of its kind - helping young British sportsmen and women aspiring to be the country's next Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and world champions.

The Next Generation

SportsAid supports over 1,000 athletes each year – the vast majority aged 12 to 18 – by providing them with a financial award to help towards training and competition costs. This acts as a real motivational boost as it is often the first recognition they receive outside of their support network. Most of them rely heavily on their parents as they have no other funding. 

These athletes are Great Britain's brightest sporting prospects. They are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports based on set criteria from each. The typical value of a SportsAid award is £1,000 with money generated through a combination of commercial partnerships, trust and charitable funds, and fundraising activities. 

The charity delivers personal development opportunities to many athletes through workshop sessions. This sees them offered mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians while gaining advice from industry experts on performance lifestyle management, sports psychology, nutrition, telling your story through the media and how best to seek further sponsorship.  

SportsAid also manages the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) and Backing The Best programme on behalf of Sport England. TASS helps athletes (16-plus) balance their sporting and academic careers, while Backing The Best supports the most financially challenged young sports stars looking to overcome cost barriers to fulfil their potential.

Where It All Began

SportsAid has helped many of the biggest sporting household names during the early stages of their careers - long before they were known by the British public. The charity was originally known as the Sports Aid Foundation having been founded as part of a plan involving Denis Howell, the UK’s first Sports Minister, ahead of the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.

The Foundation was created to provide appropriate funding, in the absence of Government support, to allow the country's top athletes to compete against usually better-resourced overseas rivals. There was an instant impact as SportsAid beneficiaries Sharron Davies, Duncan Goodhew and David Wilkie, who won gold and silver, all made their mark in Canada. 

The SportsAid awards, financed through the Football Pools and the private sector, gave athletes the opportunity to begin training full-time and completely turn their attention to their sport. The award they received - as it still does today - helped cover a range of costs such as coaching, competition fees, accommodation, transport, equipment and nutrition.

SportsAid maintained this role until the arrival of National Lottery funding in 1997 when UK Sport was established to oversee the strategic investment of Great Britain's Olympic and Paralympic teams. From this point onwards, SportsAid began to focus solely on helping young talented athletes, the next generation coming through, as they progress up the pathway.

The Illustrious Alumni

Since 1976, SportsAid has supported tens of thousands of athletes by distributing over £50 million in awards. The charity's extensive alumni stretches across the generations with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Baroness Grey-Thompson, Dame Sarah Storey, Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Katherine Grainger and Daley Thompson CBE all stand-out names.

More recently, Laura Kenny CBE, Ellie Simmonds OBE, Adam Peaty MBE, Georgie Hermitage MBE, Joe Clarke MBE, Jade Jones MBE, Hollie Arnold MBE, Pam Relph MBE, Louis Smith MBE, Natasha Baker MBE, Tom Daley, Lutalo Muhammad, James Woods, Millie Knight, Sally Conway and Dina Asher-Smith have all received SportsAid awards within the last decade.

The charity’s impressive track record was highlighted at the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics where SportsAid alumni managed to return a stunning haul of 150 medals collectively across the two Games. This included 46 of Team GB’s 67 medals (20 gold, 15 silver, 11 bronze) and 104 of ParalympicsGB’s 147 medals (44 gold, 28 silver and 32 bronze).

SportsAid recipients past and present also had huge success at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games when they won a total of 139 medals - 40 gold, 54 silver and 45 bronze - across 18 sports. This meant previous beneficiaries of the charity's support contributed to 61% of the podium finishes delivered by the Home Nations in Australia.