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Springboard to sporting success

Ed Coode (back, centre) with grant recipients (from left) Leanne Summerbee, Chris Flossman and Elliott Prendergast at the Springboard launch

Ed Coode (back, centre) with grant recipients (from left) Leanne Summerbee, Chris Flossman and Elliott Prendergast at the Springboard launch

26 February 2009

The University is collaborating with partners from the private, public and voluntary sectors in a scheme that will give young Bristol athletes the opportunity to follow their sporting dreams.

Springboard is an initiative of the University of Bristol, the John Rutley Sport Fund, law firm Burges Salmon, SportsAid, Bristol City Council and the West of England Sport Trust (‘Wesport’), and aims to provide budding athletes with much-needed funds and access to a range of support services.

The scheme was launched by the rower and Olympic Gold medallist, Ed Coode, who distributed cheques to the first recipients – teenagers Elliott Prendergast (sprinter), Leanne Summerbee (synchronised swimmer) and Chris Flossman (swimmer, who will complete in the forthcoming World Transplant Games in Australia). At the launch, the trio spoke of their ambitions, commitment and rigorous training regimes, and of the demands their sport makes on their families.

The scheme aims to support up to 18 young athletes each year. Typically, beneficiaries will be aged between 12 and 18 years. Their sport must be recognised by Sport England and they must not be in receipt of funding from the Government’s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) or the National Lottery.

As well as receiving grants, which will generally go towards equipment, and travel and accommodation costs at competitions, athletes will have access to local training facilities provided by the University and Bristol City Council. They will also be invited to attend a High Performance Open Day at the University, and will receive mentoring, publicity and pro bono legal advice from Burges Salmon.

Karen Harvey, the University’s Community Sport Development Manager, said: ‘Springboard has been the culmination of a lot of hard work and commitment on behalf of the all the partners and we are very proud to be supporting local young sports stars in this way. We don’t know where these athletes will be in 2012, 2016 or even 2020 but we'll certainly try to help them achieve their potential and sporting dreams.’

Commenting on the launch, Ed Coode said: ‘Over the years, many great athletes have benefited from similar schemes, including the majority of medal winners at last year's Beijing Olympics. The support offered – both as cash and access to facilities – is intended to help at a time when it is often only family and friends acting as sponsors. Often this coincides with education or job commitments when leaving school, and our aim is to provide support and motivation at a time when sport can sometimes take a back seat.

‘I myself was very grateful for a small grant from SportsAid which helped me buy some better oars – and gave me the confidence to progress to the next level in my development. And 11 years later I won an Olympic gold medal!’

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