A TOTAL of 36 of Staffordshire’s most promising young athletes have been recognised for their sporting achievements and awarded their share of £15,000.
Staffordshire County Council launched it’s “Staffordshire’s Talented Athlete Fund” in December to support some of the county’s most promising athletes with the costs of training and competing in their chosen sports.
The awards were made in three categories (Gold, Silver and Bronze), to reflect the broad range of talent in the County.
After assessing a record number of applications, grants of £1.000, £500 and £300 were awarded to young people in 16 different sports.
Staffs County Councillor, Mike Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Children, Communities and Localism said: “With world champions, world record holders and international medallists amongst our successful applicants, there is no doubt that this group of athletes represent Great Britain’s next generation of Olympians and Paralympians.
“We are delighted to be able to support these young people on their sporting journey and help them with the costs of competing at this level.
"It is also great to see that athletes from 16 different sports received awards, which is a reflection of the excellent health of our sporting club structure across the county and the skills and commitment of the many volunteers who support the young people.”
The exceptionally talented youngsters come from sports including athletics, cricket, canoe slalom, cycling and many more.
Money awarded is used to support the cost of their training and participation in competitions, including expenses such as travel, equipment and accommodation. The Scheme is supported by Sport Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
Three picked up the gold award, including Stafford's BMX star Oliver Webley, aged 17, who is a National Series boys champion and a British Boys champion.
Webley, who only began BMX racing in 2010 has been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in Holland in July this year.
Oliver said: "I applied for the Staffordshire Talented Athlete Fund and when I found out I had been chosen as a winner for the Gold Sports Fund, I was completely shocked.
"It's great to see my achievements and sport have this high recognition. The funds will go a very long way towards the season ahead of me, like the BMX World Championships in Rotterdam, Holland, as well as providing me with the funds for the essential equipment needed for a competitive season in BMX Racing.”
The other two gold winners are Lichfield's Emily Nelson, aged 17, a Junior World champion and world record holder in team pursuit and a national medallist in the individual pursuit, and Cameron Sargent, aged 13 from Coven in South Staffordshire who is a figure skater.
Sargent is the Special Olympic Gold Medallist of 2013 and an International Inclusive Skating competition bronze medallist.
He has been selected to represent GB in Special Olympics in both singles and pairs at the Special Olympics in Vienna in April 2014.
Among the silver award (receiving £500) recipients are, Tom Derbyshire (Stafford) aged 15, swimming; Jonathon Himmer (Stone) aged 16, canoeing; Sarah Norbury (Oulton) sailing; Anna King (Wheaton Aston) aged 13, football; Bethan Rees (Stafford) aged 14, athletics.
Bronze winners (£300) are, Thomas Hill (Stone) aged 14, canoeing; Edmund Gaffney (Stafford) aged 13, cricket; Matthew Downes (Stafford) aged 16, golf; William Downes (Stafford) aged 14, golf.