SportsAid athletes supported by MyLotto24 received expert insight and guidance from double Paralympic champion Libby Clegg, Olympic silver medalist Keri-anne Payne and Great Britain high-jumper Isobel Pooley at a workshop focused on broadening their knowledge and preparing them for the next steps in their promising sporting careers last Wednesday (3 May).
The Winners of Tomorrow Fund, formed by MyLotto24 with SportsAid in 2014, welcomed the athletes and their parents to Loughborough University for sessions based on nutrition, dealing with the media, performance lifestyle and sports psychology. Keri-anne and Isobel supported the delivery in each session and were joined by Libby for a Q&A about their careers and the challenges they face.
"You need to enjoy your sport, be happy and know why you’re getting up every day because everybody has those moments when they don’t want to," said Libby – who won gold in the T11 100m and 200m at the Rio Paralympics. "For me, the most important piece of advice I can give is to surround yourself with the right people who are going to support you and understand what you do."
Isobel, who has been recovering from an ankle injury, added: "You need to have a dream but it’s about creating a ladder of all the little steps you have to take to reach it. You always have to have the motivation even when you’re tired and don’t want to get out of bed because it is going to satisfy you when you get to that next rung. There’s nothing else on a day-to-day basis that I’d rather be doing."
Parents of the athletes had the opportunity to hear from Kay Adlington, mum of double Olympic champion Rebecca, who talked them through the journey of her daughter’s progression from learning to swim to heading to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and beyond. Kay also praised the support SportsAid provided Rebecca as a 17-year-old in 2006 when she received a financial award.
"We were told to enjoy the journey when Becky was about 12 and we didn’t have a clue what that meant," said Kay. "Looking back now, we have learnt so much. There are good and bad times, with terrific and amazing ones mixed in there, but the biggest thing for us was to be honest, say how you feel and let’s deal with it [the situation] how it is. None of this ‘if that happens’ or ‘maybe it might’.”
Kay, who has two other daughters – Laura and Chloe – with husband Steve, added: “We tried to make the best of everything as you never know what’s around the corner. We often think we do but a curve ball will come and send you a different way. We always said that we’ll have fun. No matter what Steve and I did, or what persona we decided to have, we couldn’t impact what Becky was doing.”
Kay also reflected on the time of the Beijing Olympics and the unexpected nature of Rebecca’s gold medal victory in the 400m freestyle. Kay and Steve had remained at home for the race with their flights planned for a couple of days afterwards to see Rebecca compete in the 800m freestyle. The press reaction to winning the 400m freestyle came as a bit of a shock to Kay and the family.
“We weren’t prepared for her winning,” admitted Kay. “We had a small living room and it was crammed full of about 30 people [to watch the final]. We weren’t sure what to expect as she’d been through a few tough years and this was her first Olympics. We were quietly excited and as the race panned out she was seventh on the last turn and that last leg was absolutely unbelievable.
“When she touched the wall and her name came up we absolutely erupted. We woke up some neighbours over the road! The race was at about 4am so afterwards we had cups of tea, bacon sarnies and then people were saying ‘it’s quarter to six’ I’m going to have go straight to work. Even Steve was planning on going in after a shower because he said ‘what else is going to happen?!’.
“As daft as it sounds, when she won the gold, we never ever thought about media. A local journalist rang at 6:30am and asked if he could come over and we said ‘yeah, OK’. By quarter to seven, on the street where we lived, there were 16 Sky trucks – they were parked on our neighbour’s drives, on the lawn, all over. That held us until 10pm without having two minutes to ourselves.”
Charlotte Hayward, a member of the Great Britain Short Track Speed Skating Academy, has been supported by the Winners of Tomorrow Fund since its inception. The 17-year-old, who took up the sport while living in Canada as a child, has used previous financial awards to help with the cost of skates and benefited from the holistic support offered by MyLotto24 and its Buddy Scheme.
“It’s inspiring hearing from other athletes and how they tackle different problems,” said Charlotte. “I’ve always had an issue with nerves so it was good to see how they handle them as you can’t let them get the better of you. I’ve been to a couple of workshops now and I really like speaking to other athletes and going along the journey with them as we have a lot of the same challenges.”
Simon Hayward, dad of Charlotte, commented: “I found the talk with Kay Adlington absolutely fascinating. The idea that you’re living a normal life in abnormal circumstances – that totally resonated with me. As a family supporting Charlotte, we’ve totally fallen into it so to hear somebody else’s story and the journey is really interesting and also quite motivating as we look to the future.
He added: “I can see that Charlotte has the right mindset. She’s never said to me that she doesn’t want to go skating – she loves to be on the ice and misses it when we go away on family holidays even though she’s having a great time! What’s motivating Charlotte is within her and hearing from the senior athletes today has made me more confident in what she’s doing and her approach.”
The Buddy Scheme sees MyLotto24 staff staying in touch with athletes to keep up-to-date with their progress and find out about their training and competitions. The ‘buddy’ acts as a dedicated point of contact and is available for athletes to lean on for advice. MyLotto24 were the first SportsAid partner to introduce the scheme which has since been replicated by other commercial supporters.
Here is the list of MyLotto24’s athlete intake for 2017:
Emily Bryan, 18, Cheltenham (Archery)
Alexander Farquharson, 19, Coventry (Athletics)
Brownen Jenkinson, 19, Caernarfon (Athletics)
Khai Riley-Laborde, 21, Purfleet (Athletics)
Jonty Russ, 18, Haywards Heath (Badminton)
Lizzie Tolman, 17, Formby (Badminton)
Jessica Eadsforth-Yates, 18, Stockport (Basketball)
Micah Savery-Richards, 17, Leeds (Basketball)
Akash Tuqir, 18, Telford (Boxing)
Mille O’Neill, 18, Hull (Boxing)
Alexandra Travers, 16, East Molesey (Cricket)
Amy Monkhouse, 15, Carnforth (Cycling)
Joe Burns, 15, Cheadle Hulme (Cycling)
Paige Murray, 23, Leicester (Disability Athletics)
Reece Goodwin, 20, Rotherham (Disability Athletics)
Jamal Jakeman, 17, Bilston (Disability Football)
Rebecca Kemp, 24, Loughborough (Disability Football)
Emily Bearpark, 15, Richmond (Diving)
Niamh Charles, 17, Wirral (Football)
Angus Flanagan, 17, Woking (Golf)
Annabel Fuller, 14, Kingston Upon Thames (Golf)
Ellesse Oates, 15, Tamworth (Gymnastics)
Rhys Northover, 16, Liverpool (Gymnastics)
Lily Wolstenholme, 17, Over Alderley (Hockey)
Thomas Sorsby, 20, Sheffield (Hockey)
Henry Wakes, 17, Blackburn (Judo)
Yasmin Javadian, 16, Coventry (Judo)
Kieran Harby, 16, Blidworth (Modern Pentathlon)
Charlotte Curtis, 17, Church Oakley (Netball)
Abbie Hampshire, 17, Earby (Para Swimming)
Danielle Semple, 18, Banbury (Rowing)
Felix Drinkall, 17, Bruton (Rowing)
Aristot Benz-Salomon, 15, Croydon (Rugby Union)
Ella Wyrwas, 18, London (Rugby Union)
Jonathan Benz-Salomon, 15, Croydon (Rugby Union)
Hannah Roberts-Straw, 16, Cardiff (Sailing)
Charlotte Hayward, 17, Newent (Short-Track Speed Skating)
Peter Riches, 15, London (Short-Track Speed Skating)
Molly Summerhayes, 19, Sheffield (Skiing)
Josh Cook, 16, Barnsley (Snowboarding)
Kyle Finch, 19, Southampton (Squash)
Hannah Featherstone, 18, Billingham (Swimming)
Hector Pardoe, 15, Whitchurch (Swimming)
Joseph Clark, 16, Billingham (Table Tennis)
James Chantler Mayne, 16, Gloucester (Triathlon)
Kate Waugh, 18, Gateshead (Triathlon)
Joaquin Bello, 16, Isleworth (Volleyball)
Amber Loughlin, 15, Bristol (Wheelchair Basketball)
Jonathan Dunn, 18, Chester (Wheelchair Basketball)
Joshua Williams, 19, Holywell (Wheelchair Rugby)