East Ham athlete Jordan Andrew has his heart set on the Paralympic Games after going from strength to strength in the Futures Academy Programme. The 21-year-old took his time getting into the sport but has made up for lost opportunities in style, with medal after medal coming his way in the para athletics scene.
That saw him earn selection into British Athletics’ pathway and a potential route into the highest echelon of elite sport, so long as he can maintain his good form. But Jordan is refusing to run before he can walk, happy to bide his time in his long-term ambitions across both T20 400m and F20 long jump.
“It all started from the bottom. In primary school I didn’t have an interest at all, but when I went to secondary school I was taking part in pentathlon challenge competitions, representing Newham, competing in polybat, standing long jump, javelin and relay races,” he explained. “For four years I kept on winning medals at competitions. At that point someone saw my potential, a teaching assistant, and that’s what got me onto the athletics pathway.
“My proudest achievement is getting onto the Futures Academy Programme, that was a big accomplishment, another platform in terms of trying to grow my talent and benefit my training and competing. My ambitions would be competing at the World Championships and eventually, in the long-term when the time is right, going to the Paralympics.”
His cause is also being helped by SportsAid and the Backing The Best programme, which offers critical financial help to talented young athletes who would otherwise face difficulties progressing through their sport’s system. Backed by £5.5 million of National Lottery funding, Backing The Best presents annual awards of £5,000 per athlete to help with essential costs such as travel, accommodation, kit, nutrition and medical bills.
Jordan was one of dozens of SportsAid athletes who attended workshops at The London Stadium, offering media training, nutrition advice, performance lifestyle guidance and support for parents. The youngsters from all over the country were joined by sports stars Maggie Alphonsi, John McAvoy and Jake Wightman, with the latter offering his support for the programme.
“When you’re young the funding opportunities are pretty slim, so to know that there are people out there that will help you fulfil the potential that you feel like you have when not a lot of others are doing that is pretty vital,” he said. “I hope they’ve gained a lot from us athletes being here, because it wasn’t that long ago that we were in that position. Every single one of them has got a good platform to go for success.
“Being a part of something like this, they’re already a pretty good way along the path of being successful athletes. I hope they can come away believing that can happen thanks to Backing The Best.”
Backing The Best is helping talented young athletes facing the greatest financial pressure to pursue their sporting ambitions. The programme, managed by SportsAid for Sport England, is supported by National Lottery funding. Visit www.sportengland.org/our-work/talent/backing-the-best/ to find out more.