Current SportsAid athletes Jessica Turner, Shannon Hylton and Zak Seddon have been named in the 86-strong team set to represent Great Britain at next month’s IAAF World Championships in London. They are joined by 40 members of SportsAid’s alumni, including ‘double, double’ Olympic champion Mo Farah, plus three TASS athletes being supported this year – Callum Wilkinson, Cameron Chalmers and Sarah McDonald.
Shannon, 20, from Mottingham, is ready to line up in the women’s 200m having won gold at the British Athletics Team Trials less than a fortnight ago, while Zak, 23, from Herefordshire, achieved the qualifying ‘A’ standard required to guarantee his spot. Recent SportsAid recipients Daryll Neita, Laviai Nielsen, Morgan Lake, Alicia Barrett, Reece Prescod and Tom Bosworth were also announced on the team with a final selection meeting due on Monday 24 July.
"This feels bigger for us than Rio," said Neil Black - Performance Director for British Athletics. “London 2017 is the major global sporting event this year and will be the biggest occasion the country has seen since 2012. We've selected some incredibly talented athletes, and in many events there have been some close calls. It's now up to them to grasp this opportunity and produce performances that will make the whole nation proud."
Mo, who is also the reigning World Champion over 5000m and 10,000m, has not been defeated over either distance at a major championships since 2011. Long jumper Greg Rutherford, a recipient of SportsAid support in 2003, won Olympic gold at London 2012 on the same evening that Mo, backed by the charity in 1999, claimed the 10,000m title. Unfortunately, Greg has had to withdraw from the squad due to an ankle ligament injury.
"As an athlete or ex-athlete, to see that help that SportsAid offers is invaluable,” said Mo at the 40th anniversary SportsBall last November. “I remember my first time ever getting support from SportsAid, how big it was and how far it went so it's important we see that. We have to recognise the hard work SportsAid does. They're very good at supporting and finding the next generation of athletes, like myself in the past.”
A total of 25 athletes have been given help by SportsAid since London 2012 while 28 competed at the Rio Olympic Games. The four members of the women’s 4x100m relay team that won bronze in Brazil last summer have all been selected to fly the flag for Great Britain with the aforementioned Daryll reunited with Asha Philip, Desiree Henry and Dina Asher-Smith. All four have felt the impact of SportsAid support having been presented with awards in the past.
“I remember when I received my first SportsAid grant when I was around 14 or 15,” recalled Dina – who also had a TASS award while balancing her studies. “Everybody jokes about the bank of mum and dad but that’s what we run off when we are younger athletes. I remember there were times where my mum was thinking, ‘do I pay this bill or do I go to this competition?’ SportsAid helped my mum and dad immensely and also boosted my confidence.”
There will also be record-breaking Scottish contingent lining up for the World Championships as 13 athletes get ready to pull on the Great Britain vest. 11 of these are members of SportsAid’s alumni including middle-distance runners Guy Learmonth and Lynsey Sharp. Eilidh Doyle will compete in her fifth consecutive World Championships hoping to add to silver and bronze medals won in the 4x400m relay in Moscow and Beijing respectively.
Here's the list of SportsAid athletes who will be competing at the IAAF World Championships London 2017....
Supported by SportsAid – 2004-2005 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2012 (GLL Sports Foundation), 2012-2013 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid - 2014, 2015, 2016 (Nottingham Building Society)
20km race walk
Supported by SportsAid – 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 (Lloyds), 2012, 2013, 2014 (Kent County Council)
Supported by SportsAid – 2009 (SportsAid)
Supported by SportsAid – 2006, 2007 (SportsAid), 2008, 2009, 2010 (Gaz de France), 2011 (Asda)
Supported by SportsAid – 2010 (SportsAid Scotland)
Supported by SportsAid – 2016-2017 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2012 (Robertson Trust), 2014 (Asda)
Supported by SportsAid – 2011-2012 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2007 (SportsAid)
Supported by SportsAid – 1999 (SportsAid)
Supported by SportsAid – 2007 and 2010 (Gaz de France), 2012 and 2013 (Lloyds)
Supported by SportsAid – 2005 (SportsAid)
Supported by SportsAid – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 (Lloyds)
Supported by SportsAid – 2015 (Robertson Trust)
Supported by SportsAid – 2011 (Airwave), 2011-2012 (TASS), 2013 (Elba Partner)
Supported by SportsAid – 2013-2014, 2015-2016 (TASS), 2017 (RBC)
Supported by SportsAid – 2015 (CGI)
Supported by SportsAid – 2013-2014, 2014-2015 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2013, 2014 (Jaguar)
Supported by SportsAid – 2007 (SportsAid), 2010, 2011 (GLL Sports Foundation)
Supported by SportsAid – 2011, 2012 (Asda), Robertson Trust (2013)
Supported by SportsAid – 2016-2017 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2008, 2009 (Lloyds)
Supported by SportsAid – 2012 (Mayor of London), 2014, 2015 (Elton John)
Supported by SportsAid – 2015 (Jaguar)
Supported by SportsAid – 2003 (H.C.Whitbread), 2004-2005 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid - 2012, 2013 (Robertson Trust)
Supported by SportsAid – 2005, 2006 (SportsAid)
Supported by SportsAid – 2011 (John Lewis)
Supported by SportsAid – 2016 (GLL Sports Foundation)
Supported by SportsAid – 2010-2012 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2010 (Gaz de France), 2011 (GLL Sports Foundation), 2016, 2017 (Prudential)
Supported by SportsAid – 2005-2006 (TASS), 2006 (SportsAid)
Supported by SportsAid – 2008 (Gaz de France)
Supported by SportsAid – 2010 (Jaguar)
Supported by SportsAid – 2010 (Lloyds), 2011, 2012 (Surrey CPFA), 2013 (Lloyds)
Supported by SportsAid – 2014 (SportsAid), 2015 (Thompson Trust), 2016, 2017 (Nottingham Building Society)
Supported by SportsAid – 2005-2006 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2009 (both GLL Sports Foundation and TAUT), 2011 (Prudential)
Supported by SportsAid – 2012 (Girdlers' Livery Company)
Supported by SportsAid – 2010 (Gaz de France)
Supported by SportsAid – 2013-2014 (TASS)
Supported by SportsAid – 2011, 2012, 2013 (Asda)
20km race walk
Supported by SportsAid – 2015 (Suffolk SportsAid Foundation), 2016-2017 (TASS)
*signifies the athlete competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games