Next generation says cash and coaching are key to Olympic and Paralympic success

23 February, 2012

SportsAid's Annual Athlete Survey of Britain’s most promising young sportsmen and women has found they value financial support and access to coaching above all in their pursuit of Olympic or Paralympic glory.

The 675 athletes surveyed are all supported by SportsAid, have an average age of 18 and are among the best in the country in their sport for their age. Sixty-eight per cent of them compete in Olympic disciplines, 19% in Paralympic disciplines, and they say their greatest challenges are rising travel costs and learning to juggle sport with education. Most (63%) train for more than 15 hours a week and last year average expenditure rose 15% to more than £6,400.

“This is the fifth year of our annual athlete survey and it gives a fascinating insight into the life of a rising sports star,” said Tim Lawler, Chief Executive of SportsAid, which finds and funds sports talent throughout the UK. “Despite unprecedented levels of investment into British sport in recent years the next generation is still looking to SportsAid for help.

“That we continue to encourage and support these athletes is crucial because from experience we know they are our Olympic or Paralympic heroes of the future. They are the living legacy of London 2012 for whom SportsAid plays a leading, national role.”

In addition to the funding that SportsAid provides to 2,000 of Britain’s best young athletes every year the survey’s respondents said they also value the recognition the charity gives them.

“Without the help [from SportsAid] I wouldn't have been able to progress in my sport," said a 13-year-old athlete who took part in the survey*. “It also makes me very proud and motivated to be a SportsAid athlete along with so many famous sportsmen and women.”

Previous beneficiaries of SportsAid’s work include Sir Chris Hoy, Dame Kelly Holmes, Baroness Tanni Grey Thomson, Sir Steve Redgrave, Tom Daley, Rebecca Adlington OBE and Jessica Ennis MBE – all of whom received SportsAid awards early in their careers.

At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, 18 of Team GB's 19 gold medals went to SportsAid athletes or alumni.

SportsAid Annual Athlete Survey 2012 (conducted by IFM Sports Marketing Surveys) findings:

  • Sample: 675 (34% of the 1,964 athletes funded by SportsAid in 2011).
  • Average age: 18.
  • 68% compete in Olympic sports; 19% compete in Paralympic sports.
  • Financial support and access to coaching have been ranked as the most important factors to success for the last three years running.
  • Travel, equipment and accommodation have been the biggest costs for four years running.
  • Average annual expenditure rose from £5,576 in 2010 to £6,438 in 2011 (an increase of more than 15%).
  • Other than SportsAid, parents are consistently cited as athletes' main source of income (74% saying so in 2011 and 74% saying so again in 2012).
  • 89% say their parents have a good understanding of their sport but that they could benefit from more advice on nutrition and how to balance school and sport commitments.
  • 43% were inspired by their family to take up their sport; 60% carry on because they enjoy it.
  • 31% train for 15-19 hours a week, 19% for 20-24 hours and 13% for more than 25 hours.
  • 74% plan to continue their education alongside their sports career.
  • 84% say their school/college/university is supportive of their sports career.


Editor’s notes

* The athlete’s name was not given because the survey data is anonymised.

More information

About the survey

  • SportsAid’s annual athlete survey is conducted by IFM Sports Marketing Surveys.
  • The data is collected anonymously.
  • The respondents are all supported by SportsAid and every athlete the charity supports has been nominated by their sport’s governing body in recognition of their talent and potential.
  • The sample of 675 athletes represents 34% of the athletes SportsAid supported in 2011.
  • Significance testing by IFM SMS gives this year’s survey data a 95% confidence rating.