11-time Paralympic gold medallist Tanni-Grey Thompson, Olympic heroes Mark Hunter, Gail Emms and Leon Taylor, and a host of British sporting legends will be attending SportsAid’s annual SportsBall on Thursday 23 November to celebrate the achievements of talented young athletes from across the country.
The SportsBall, taking place at the London Hilton Park Lane for the third consecutive year, is a key fundraiser for the charity. The money generated helps towards producing SportsAid awards which support rising sports stars with training and competition costs during the early stages of their careers.
Tanni, Mark, Gail and Leon all received financial backing from SportsAid, as did Danny Crates, Ade Adepitan, Dave Florence, Rich Hounslow, Jessica Eddie, Sarah Winckless, Mark Foster, Karen Pickering and Naomi Riches, all of whom will be at the SportsBall.
Guests have the opportunity to spend time with the Olympians and Paralympians while enjoying a three-course dinner and being treated to stunning live performances. They are also given the chance to try their hand at different activities in the sports fairground at this unique black-tie event.
“The SportsBall helps at the end of each year to celebrate SportsAid and the achievements of the athletes themselves,” said Olympic silver medallist Keri-anne Payne, an ambassador for SportsAid, who is on the SportsBall committee and helps with preparations for the event.
“People have a great time watching the athletes doing demonstrations and are able to meet and spend time with those [the athlete] they are helping. You realise the organisation is not just giving money to athletes but also giving them the best opportunity for their future.”
More recent SportsAid recipients such as Lutalo Muhammad, Louis Smith, Natasha Baker, Morgan Lake, Georgie Twigg, Kirsty Mackay and Olivia Carnegie-Brown are also confirmed to attend. The SportsBall holds special significance for Morgan in particular.
Each year, SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award is presented to a young athlete currently supported by the charity. The accolade, designed to shine a spotlight on the achievements of the next generation, was won by Hollie in 2008 before Morgan also claimed the prize in 2014.
There will also be a strong winter sport contingent ahead of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Olympic champions Jayne Torvill and Amy Williams, plus former British alpine skier Chemmy Alcott and Paralympic hopeful Millie Knight, are all confirmed for the SportsBall.
“Having been the recipient of a SportsAid grant when I was younger, it really was the turning point,” said Chemmy. “I was a little girl with a big dream and it showed I was on the right track. If you get involved in SportsAid, you’re giving people who want to be the best they can be in sport that chance.”