All eyes on home­grown tal­ent for Com­mon­wealth Games

Aldershot News & Mail - - CONTACTS -

WITH this year’s Com­mon­wealth Games now un­der­way, all eyes will be fixed on the 28 ath­letes from Hamp­shire.

High jumper Iso­bel Poo­ley from Fleet, hockey player Alex Dan­son, who grew up in Odi­ham, and Yate­ley swim­mer An­drew Wil­lis will be among those rep­re­sent­ing Eng­land at the games in Glas­gow.

The Com­mon­wealth Games fol­low on from Hamp­shire’s out­stand­ing suc­cess at the Lon­don 2012 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games where ath­letes from the county hauled 10% of the GB medal to­tal.

The ath­letes will be com­pet­ing across 17 dif­fer­ent sports, with 11 of the men and women sup­ported by the Hamp­shire Tal­ented Ath­lete Scheme.

The scheme is funded by Hamp­shire County Coun­cil and co-or­di­nated by Sport Hamp­shire and IoW and aims to help the county’s ath­letes reach world class podi­ums.

Coun­cil­lor Keith Chap­man, Hamp­shire’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.”

More than 200 peo­ple have been given fund­ing or sup­port through the scheme for 2014.

Funds have been dou­bled thanks to the coun­cil’s Olympic le­gacy pro­gramme, which was launched in July last year with the help of Hamp­shire-based Olympic gold medal cy­clist Dani King.

The scheme 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. Leisure cen­tres gift free ac­cess to al­low the ath­letes to train and fast­track phys­io­ther­apy helps ath­letes re­cover from in­juries.

Stage­coach, Blues­tar and First bus com­pa­nies pro­vide an­nual bus passes, re­duc­ing ath­letes’ travel costs.

Swim­mer Wil­lis, who has ben­e­fit­ted from the scheme, said: “I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to my sec­ond Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow.

“After the sup­port we re­ceived­ceived in Lon­don I am look­ing for­ward to the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I would like to thank Hamp­shire County Coun­cil and Sport Hamp­shire and IOW for the sup­port 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.”

A new el­e­ment to the scheme is the ex­pan­sion of

Ithe 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.

Cllr Peter Edgar, the 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.” n For more on our sport­ing hope­fuls, see page 46.

AC­TION IM­AGES/ STEVEN PASTON

Iso­bel Poo­ley in ac­tion in the womens high jump at the Bri­tish Cham­pi­onships in Birm­ing­ham in June.

An­drew Wil­lis.

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