11 Jan 2017 Last updated at 10:00

Talented athlete scheme now open

The council is supporting the next generation of Island sporting stars by running the popular Talented Athlete Programme scheme again over 2017.

The council’s sports unit is now accepting applications for the sponsored discount scheme, which is aimed at helping gifted sports people reach their full potential and achieve further success.

For young people currently competing at a Hampshire county level or above the scheme provides support for them to access and train for top level competition within their chosen sport. For adults the scheme offers the same support but for those representing England or Great Britain or those who are recognised by their sport governing body as a potential talent.

Recipients of the scheme will be given much needed support in the form of free access to council-run leisure centres, discounted travel on Wightlink and assisted bus travel with Southern Vectis as well as discounts in selected local retailers and physio services.

This year, the scheme is being sponsored by a host of Island based and national companies, including: Isle of Wight Council 1Leisure; Wightlink; Southern Vectis; Love Running; Cowes Chiropractic Clinic; Wade Massage Therapy and Valentis Academy.

Isle of Wight Council Executive member, Councillor Shirley Smart, said: “The return of the Talented Athlete Programme for 2017 provides much needed support to encourage our home-grown potential stars of the future to push themselves further, without having to worry about the costs of accessing leisure facilities or travel.

“I am pleased we are able to offer this scheme with our sponsorship partners so that we can continue to support the Island’s future athletic stars.”

The scheme was first launched in 2013 and since then a number of sporting stars have benefited including athletics 10,000 metres star, Jessica Andrews (now Martin), who competed at the Rio Olympics; hammer athlete Andrew Frost, who competed in both 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games and Nicholas Percy, discus athlete who competed at the 2014 Commonwealth games and is the current UK number 1.

Stars for the future include Freddie Fentum (squash), Zac Lacy, Amelie Haworth (squash) and Conor Richards (golf), all of whom successfully accessed the scheme in 2016.

Rob Haworth, the father of future squash star Amelie Haworth, said: “The scheme has helped us immensely. The financial cost of Amelie's commitment to her sport is huge, and we simply wouldn't be able to afford a number of vital aspects to her continued development were it not for the help of the scheme.

“Amelie trains after school most evenings on the Isle of Wight so the access to the squash courts is invaluable. We also need to travel to the mainland many times over the course of the year, so the Wightlink travel discount is a lifeline for us. We are extremely grateful.”

Golfing star, Conor Richards, said: “I have always very much valued the assistance the talented scheme has given me. Having spent three years under the England Golf Development programme with weekly travel to and from the mainland I could never have done this without the sponsorship. My parents and I have been and continue to be very grateful for the assistance the scheme has given me and enabled me to reach this highest level of the game.”

TOP FIVE TALENTED ATHLETE PROGRAMME FACTS
In 2016:
- free leisure facilities access was given to 70 people;
- those 70 received up to 50 per cent off ferry travel;
- free Island wide bus travel was given to 24 young people;
- all participants received discounted physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments;
- the value of the combined sponsorship was about £120,000.

To check your eligibility against the current criteria and to obtain an application pack, please visit https://www.iwight.com/council/OtherServices/Sports-Development-Unit/Talented-and-Gifted1 or contact the councils sports unit on (01983) 823818/email sports.unit@iow.gov.uk  

The application process closes on 31 January 2017 and the successful applicants will be notified in February. The scheme is applicable to Isle of Wight residents only.

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Previous scheme recipient, Jessica Martin (nee Andrews)
Previous scheme recipient, Jessica Martin (nee Andrews)
Factfile
  • The Talented Athlete Programme was first launched in 2013.
  • The application process closes on the 31 January 2017.
  • The scheme is open to Isle of Wight residents only.
 
Isle of Wight, UK