Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has praised the ‘often unrivalled dedication’ shown by talented young athletes and their families in a special message celebrating this year’s SportsAid Week. In the message, The Duchess also highlighted ‘the supporters and partners of SportsAid’ for the role they have played in ensuring the athletes can pursue their sporting ambitions.
The Duchess became the Patron of SportsAid in 2013 and has met many talented young athletes, either currently or previously supported by the charity, who will be aiming to represent Great Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They have received financial awards, recognition and personal development opportunities from SportsAid during the early stages of their careers.
In the message, The Duchess underlines her admiration for how SportsAid athletes balance the different areas of their lives as well as meeting the costs of their sport with their families. A recent survey by the charity revealed that the average spend annually for a SportsAid athlete has risen from £5,022 to £7,089 over the last decade, and they will typically travel 373 miles every week to get to training.
“The countdown for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games has well and truly begun. There is less than a year to go until we find ourselves glued to screens across the country with family, friends, and strangers cheering on Team GB and Paralympics GB.
“While the excitement grows for all of us at home, for the elite athletes involved it is the culmination of years and years of hard work and immense commitment and dedication by their families, who do so much to support them. For each, their journey is unique – involving determination, personal sacrifice, and an often unrivalled level of dedication. They show just how transformational a role sport can play in our lives and provide inspiration to us all.
“As Patron of SportsAid, I have been fortunate to meet many of the country’s most talented young athletes in the earliest stages of their development. I have always been impressed by their ability to balance their education alongside training and competing, as well as meeting the challenging costs of their sport. The staff, supporters and partners of SportsAid have played a pivotal role in many of their journeys by ensuring that all young aspiring athletes have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
“This September, SportsAid Week presents a fresh opportunity for us to shine a light on the next generation of British sporting talent.
“Together, we can support and encourage these young role models to keep pursuing their goals, and help them reach the summit of sporting excellence – making all of us proud.”
SportsAid Week is currently taking place for the fourth consecutive year having launched after the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The week of fun and fundraising is a key income stream for the charity and has generated close to £150,000 since its inception thanks to the backing of commercial partners, local businesses, individual supporters, leading sporting bodies and schools.
Since its formation in 1976, the charity has supported thousands of athletes at the start of their journeys, with Sir Mo Farah, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Baroness Grey-Thompson, Dame Sarah Storey, Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Katherine Grainger, Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Ben Ainslie, Dame Kelly Holmes, Daley Thompson CBE and Becky Adlington OBE among its alumni.
More recently, Laura Kenny CBE, Ellie Simmonds OBE, Adam Peaty MBE, Jade Jones MBE, Georgie Hermitage MBE, Hollie Arnold MBE, Natasha Baker MBE, Jonnie Peacock MBE, Joe Clarke MBE, Richard Whitehead MBE, Tom Daley, Lutalo Muhammad, Dina Asher-Smith, Millie Knight, Nekoda Davis and Sally Conway received SportsAid awards across the last 15 years.
• SportsAid is the only national charity (#1111612) of its kind - helping young British sportsmen and women aspiring to be the nation's next Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and world champions. SportsAid was established in 1976 and celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016.
• SportsAid was the major source of financial support for the country’s elite athletes before the arrival of National Lottery funding through UK Sport in 1997. SportsAid began to focus on the next generation of talented young athletes and continues to play that role today.
• SportsAid supported 1,058 athletes - the vast majority aged 12 to 18 - in 2018/19. The charity provides these athletes with a financial award, recognition and personal development opportunities. The typical value of a SportsAid award is £1,000 and helps with training and competition costs.
• These athletes are the UK's brightest prospects. Each year, they are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports. Most of them receive no funding, other than that from SportsAid, which means they rely heavily on their parents for support.
• SportsAid alumni won 150 medals combined across the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio three years ago. SportsAid alumni won 46 out of Team GB’s 67 medals (20 gold, 15 silver, 11 bronze) and 104 out of ParalympicsGB’s 147 medals (44 gold, 28 silver and 32 bronze).