Eleven Hampshire athletes supported by Hampshire County Council will be competing for their home nation in Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games beginning on 23 July.
The Commonwealth Games follow on from Hampshire’s outstanding success at the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games where athletes from the county hauled 10% of the GB medal total.
The athletes will be competing across 17 different sports, some of which will have Paralympic events. Hampshire will have 28 sports men and women competing, 11 of whom have been supported in their development by the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme. The scheme is funded by Hampshire County Council and co-ordinated by Sport Hampshire & IoW and aims to help Hampshire’s athletes reach world class podiums.
More than 200 people have been given funding or support through the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme (HTAS) for 2014. Funds have been doubled thanks to Hampshire County Council’s Olympic Legacy Programme, which was launched in July 2013 with the help of Hampshire-based Olympic gold medal cyclist Dani King. HTAS has been given £92,000 per year for the next three years as an investment in Hampshire’s talented athletes as part of the Legacy Programme.
The scheme provides funding and a range of support services from partners and sponsors to help offset the high costs of competing in high level sport. Hampshire County Council provides funds for monetary grants and support services. Local leisure centres gift free access to allow the athletes to train and fast-track physiotherapy helps athletes recover from injuries. Stagecoach, Bluestar and First bus companies provide annual bus passes, reducing athletes’ travel costs, while Southampton Solent University provides sports science expertise.
Councillor Keith Chapman, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, said: “Hampshire has a strong sporting heritage, with many exceptional sportsmen and women living in the county. The Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme goes some way to providing much needed support to these committed, talented and determined sportsmen and women. We look forward to watching the progress of our local athletes towards achieving their sporting ambitions.”
A new element to the HTAS scheme is the expansion of the athlete assemblies. This programme was piloted in 2012 with athletes visiting schools to speak about their sporting experiences and the upcoming the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The success of this pilot led to the Council providing further investment and this term more than 50 assemblies have been held across the county.
Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, said: “In Hampshire every young person matters. We want them to all achieve their sporting potential, whether they become an Olympic athlete or whether to take up a sport for their pleasure for the rest of their lives. There are educational benefits and health benefits by being active and we believe that sport is of the maximum importance for the full development of young people in Hampshire. Hampshire County Council has over the years put millions of pounds into sporting facilities for our schools and supports the Hampshire Schools Partnership which hosts the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Games every year, in which all schools, whether in the private sector, or the public sector, are invited to participate.”
Talks centre around the themes of aspirations and resilience, explaining what the athletes’ goals are and how they have overcome set-backs to achieve them. Athletes encourage the children to think about what their aspirations are in life, both sporting and non-sporting, and how they will achieve them. Feedback from both the schools and the athletes has been hugely positive and plans are underway for future assemblies in the new academic term.
Olympic gold medal cyclist Dani King MBE who is from Hamble-le-Rice, won the cycling team pursuit gold at the London 2012 Olympics. As a teenager she cycled at the County Council’s Calshot Activities Centre, in the New Forest, before going on to achieve Olympic and World Championship cycling success.
Dani benefited from Hampshire County Council’s Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme (HTAS) early in her career and continues to be an ambassador for Hampshire County Council to help inspire more people to do sport or physical activity.
Dani, who has been selected to represent Team England in the cycling events at the Glasgow Common Wealth Games 2014, said: “I feel really proud to have made selection for the England team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It’s always an honour to represent your country and this will be my first Commonwealth Games and the first time I have represented England. The National Road race was held in Glasgow in 2013 and the crowds were amazing so I’m sure the atmosphere in both the track and on the road will be amazing. I’ll try my best to do everyone proud! HTAS has helped me to reach my dream of becoming the best bike rider I can be and I’m forever grateful of the help they gave me when I really needed it.”
Andrew Willis, from Hart, who will be swimming for Team England and is also a beneficiary of the HTAS scheme, said: “I am really looking forward to my second Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. After the support we received in London I am looking forward to the experience. I would like to thank Hampshire County Council and Sport Hampshire & IOW for the support I received on the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme. The extra funding enabled me progress my swimming career and helped me become the athlete I am today.”
Caroline Brownlie, from Winchester, shooting for Team Scotland, added: “HTAS has been a great benefit for me in my journey to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and training towards selection for Great Britain. I’ve used the free access to the gym and also the physiotherapy support. I’m proud to represent Hampshire in county competitions and it’s great to share my news of successes.”
Olivia Breen, from East Hampshire, competing in athletics events for Team Wales, concluded: “I am so grateful to the support from the HTAS scheme. It is thanks to schemes like this, which allows athletes to continue training and competing.”
Follow the progress of the athletes competing at the Games using Twitter – @SportHIOW and @Hantsconnect
For more information on the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme visit: www.sporthampshireiow.co.uk/talentedathletes
For a full list of Hampshire athletes taking part in the 2014 Glasgow Common Wealth Games visit: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/sporthants-news.htm?newsid=644089
More information about the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Legacy for Hampshire County Council can be found via the following link http://www3.hants.gov.uk/olympiclegacy.htm
Current or former members of the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme selected for the Games include;
Freya Jones, javelin, Team England (Eastleigh)
Isobel Pooley, high jump, Team England (Hart)
Louise Damen, marathon, Team England (Winchester)
Olivia Breen, long jump, Team Wales (East Hampshire)
Jonathan Dibben, Team England (New Forest)
Dani King, Team England (Eastleigh)
Kelly Simm, Team England (Winchester)
Alex Danson, Team England (Hart)
Andrew Willis, Team England (Hart)
Caroline Brownlie, Team Scotland (Winchester)
Hannah Hicks, Team England (Test Valley)