As nearly 400 athletes are set to represent Team GB at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, more than 60% of them have directly benefitted from our investment of National Lottery funding on their sporting journey.
We’re a partner of the charity SportsAid that helps young British sportsmen and women aspiring to be the country’s next Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and world champions.
The SportsAid alumni travelling to Tokyo number 242 – 61% of the 397 athletes and travelling reserves.
Of those 242, four have come through the Backing the Best initiative that was founded in 2015 and is funded by us but managed by SportsAid – whose research shows it costs around £6,000 a year for young athletes to travel and pay for coaches and training camps.
The programme is designed to help those for whom the cost of sport would ultimately prevent them from progressing through their sport’s development system and fulfilling their potential.
In addition, 91 of the 242 are graduates of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) that is again funded by us and overseen by SportsAid, and helps athletes in education to get the best from both their academic and sporting lives.
These programmes aim to give those from all backgrounds a chance of developing their talent, and for our strategic lead for talent and performance, Duncan Truswell, they’re about living the ambitions of our Uniting the Movement strategy.
"It matters that we are impatient to realise our long-held ambition to systematically identify, recruit and develop those, mainly, young people with the most potential," he said.
"Systematically means that we will do so deliberately, not by accident. Actively looking beyond the traditional talent pools or pathways to find and engage those with the most potential – whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever background they’re from.
"We want to remove the barriers whether they're financial, or having to make a choice between a sporting career or education, so that young people with potential from all walks of life can become athletes and it's not a privilege for a lucky few.
"Only when we, together with our partners and sports governing bodies, can do this – embracing and engaging the huge variety of sport and activity providers in England – will we find our true sporting potential.
"I hope that in Tokyo, in Beijing (for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2022) and in Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games in 2022, we’ll begin to see evidence of progress towards our vision."
Since 1 April 2017 we’ve invested more than £51 million in 27 Olympic and 18 Paralympic sports, and more than £18m into organisations like SportsAid and programmes such as Backing the Best and TASS.
We work to ensure that the approximately 60,000 young athletes on English Talent Pathways have a meaningful development experience that equips them with knowledge, skills, competencies and experiences that allow them to successfully transition to high performance programmes, but also adult life.