The next generation of athletes from across the county have been a given a big helping hand on their journey to become future Olympic and Paralympic champions.
Odiham’s Alex Danson was one of nine Hampshire athletes to return home from Rio last summer with a medal after leading Team GB’s women’s hockey team to their first ever gold medal.
The forward and double gold winning Alton Paralympic sprinter Georgie Hermitage were also among five to benefit from the county council’s Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme (HTAS) earlier in their sporting careers.
A total of 181 young wannabe sports stars are currently involved in the scheme, with grant funding worth £46,000 being made available by the council to help them keep on the right track to success.
Executive member for recreation, Cllr Andrew Gibson, said: “The Talented Athlete Scheme is a real success story and has helped put Hampshire on the sporting map.
“We were all inspired by the record medal haul of GB athletes at Rio, including five HTAS athletes who won eight medals.
“We know from speaking to the sportsmen and women how much of a difference the scheme made to their sporting careers, particularly when they were young and support from national sporting bodies was not always available.
“We’re delighted to support the next generation of talented athletes, including many aiming for glory at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.”
The new grants will see £35,200 used to fund competition and travel costs and a further £10,800 earmarked for fast track physiotherapy and sport science workshops, while all athletes will have access to free training at leisure centres.
Among those to benefit will be Basingstoke’s Dan Reynaldo, who won the Inaugural Red Cross International T20 Tournament in 2015 with England’s physical disability team.
Charity Energise Me administer the scheme, with chairman of the board of trustees, Richard Millard, adding: ‘We are very proud of the athletes on the scheme. “Especially for being fantastic role models and sharing their journeys to sporting excellence with local primary schools – to encourage and inspire Hampshire’s schoolchildren to take part in physical activity and sport and to strive to reach their goals.”