Olympians Jonathan Edwards and Leon Taylor joined over 100 Team GB and ParalympicsGB hopefuls at Loughborough University, at the launch of the 2011 Lloyds TSB Local Heroes programme.
Now in its fourth year of its partnership with the charity SportsAid, the programme provides financial and practical support to aspiring athletes and their families. With London 2012 fast approaching, research conducted by SportsAid indicates that it’s the cost which remains the single biggest barrier to an athlete’s progression – and with the average financial cost of pursuing a career in sport rising by more than 12% in 2010, the programme aims to support athletes at a time when they need it most, in a bid to ensure that more British talent reaches the top of their sport.
The interactive workshop held at Loughborough was designed to prepare the future stars of Team GB and ParalympicsGB for life as an elite athlete. Over 100 athletes from across Britain participated in activities such as motivational sessions led by sports psychology experts; an ‘Olympic and Paralympic Games experience’ session led by the British Olympic Association; and sessions with SportsAid award recipients and Team GB Olympians, Jonathan Edwards and Leon Taylor, who were on hand to share their own Games experiences and provide hints and tips on how to develop their careers. The young athletes will also be given the opportunity to find out how they will have the chance to be selected to carry the Olympic flame as part of the Olympic Torch Relay next year.
778 future Team GB and ParalympicsGB stars have now been supported since the Local Heroes initiative began in 2008, and the programme is on course to have supported 1000 athletes by the start of London 2012. Of those supported, 49 have progressed onto the government’s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, while a further 82 have moved onto World Class Lottery support. In all, over a quarter of Local Heroes have progressed through the talent pathway since the initiative began - indicating that investing in sporting talent at an early stage will ultimately increase the stock of top British talent that could go on to compete at the highest level.
To find out more about the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes programme, or to find an athlete in your area, visit www.lloydstsb.com/localheroes