As Scottish athletes celebrated a record-matching 13 medals at the Rio Olympics it emerged that almost three quarters had received support from charity SportsAid Scotland at some point in their careers. Of the 47 Scots taking part in the games, 34 had been given financial assistance from SportsAid Scotland which helps young sportsmen and women.
The list includes gold medal winning cyclists Katie Archibald and Callum Skinner, rower Heather Stanning and three of the four swimmers from Team GB’s silver medal winning 200m freestyle relay team. Katherine Grainger, who became Britain’s most-decorated female Olympian with her silver medal in the double skulls also benefitted from the charity’s support.
Since SportsAid Scotland was founded in 1980, it has awarded funding in excess of £3 million to more than 5,000 athletes with £200,000 in awards to 250 sportspeople this year.
Sir Chris Hoy, who received funding from the charity at the start of his career, was among those who paid tribute to its work as the Rio games came to a close. He said:
“I am very grateful to SportsAid Scotland for giving me some initial funding towards my BMX racing when I was a 12-year-old in Edinburgh. It may only have been £100 but it was a rubber stamp of approval and great to have their support and at an early age was a real boost.
“Recognition as an athlete of promise is very important and gives young athletes the inspiration to pursue their sporting dreams and fulfil their potential.”
Roddy Mackenzie, SportsAid Scotland’s chief executive, said he hoped the success in Rio would lead to additional funding in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
"It was fantastic to see so many of our athletes achieving success in Rio. We provide the first rung of the ladder for talented athletes to receive funding and it is so often the case that it is that first recognition that inspires athletes to achieve greatness.
"We are hugely grateful to our main sponsors The Robertson Trust and also The David Stevenson Trust, SSE and sportscotland who have enabled us to provide a high-level of support for the stars of tomorrow. The feedback we receive from athletes is overwhelmingly positive and many who have gone on to win medals at major games speak fondly of that first recognition of support provided through SportsAid Scotland."
Added Kenneth Gibson:
“As Sir Chris Hoy makes clear, early support for our athletes is vital to show they are being taken seriously, grow their confidence and give practical assistance. SportAid Scotland does an excellent job and I would urge any budding athletes in north Ayrshire to contact them.”