Athlete Inspiration Days: Top 10

Published 19 December 2014

Yesterday (22 December) UK Sport revealed that National Lottery backed Olympic and Paralympic athletes have spent over 10,000 days inspiring the next generation through sport since London 2012.

The ten athletes who have contributed the most to this told us why they feel it is important and explained what they have been doing.

10. Hannah Mcleod (Hockey)

"When we talk about inspiring a generation, for me it’s not necessarily about inspiring the next Olympic Gold medallist. It’s about introducing the benefits sport and physical activity can provide each and every one of us, regardless of ability. If we can help motivate, give confidence and generate opportunities to get involved in sport and stay involved, we will have without doubt helped the next generation."

9. Melissa Reid (Paratriathlon)

“It’s important to try and inspire younger ones to get involved with sport, because they’re the next generation that will carry it on after us. It’s just about trying to get as many people involved with sport as we can, and helping them enjoy it, that’s the most important thing.

“If I can make one child smile then it’s all worthwhile, I’d rather inspire a child than win a medal.

“I coach swimming, I go into schools and lead activities, run events, both about sport, but also the different disabilities within sport and teaching them about visual impairment and being a guide.”


8. Angie Malone (Wheelchair Curling)

“I have been inspired by great athletes and incredible coaches and that has helped me achieve and reach my goals. I have reached the highest level in my sport through hard work, determination and most importantly believing in myself. I want to share those experiences, to inspire and excite everyone I speak to and who watches my sport for them to feel able and equipped to achieve the best they can in life, no matter what that may be.

“It is important for all athletes to inspire, motivate and encourage the next generation and to pass on their skills for that generation to be even better, fitter and healthier, to show the importance of discipline, determination, aspiration and sportsmanship.

“I feel privileged to be able to share my experiences and I am proud when I see an athlete or child who I have encouraged strive to reach their potential and achieve their goal.”   

7. Nicola White (Hockey)

“I was inspired as a kid watching the likes of Dame Kelly Holmes and Sally Gunnell, watching the Olympic Games, knowing that I wanted to follow in their footsteps and compete on the world stage.

“It is very rewarding making appearances to schools and clubs. Every athlete started there once and grew with inspiration and guidance. It is overwhelming to see their reaction to what we have achieved and by sharing the success with medals and giving a brief insight to the amazing world of elite sport, you are really showing that a dream job can become reality with hard work!

“Sometimes you become so engrossed in your training and environment that making these visits really does bring back to you why you do this job and the love you have always had for the sport.”

6. Nigel Murray (Boccia)

"It’s an honour to be asked to do this; it’s an opportunity to tell people about your sport, but also to inspire them about what can be done, and what can be achieved. They don’t need to go on and become an Olympic champion, but it’s just to try and inspire them to do anything that they’re passionate about, and to pursue their dreams, enjoy themselves, be motivated and have fun.

“It’s great to meet people in my own community, for many people, when they first meet me they know nothing about Boccia, so it’s great to be able to spread that awareness about Paralympic sport.

“I also do a lot of work with children who don’t have a disability, so for me it’s also about improving disability awareness and to show people what can be achieved, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. I love doing it, and I’m proud to have been involved with sport for so long.”

5. Rhys Melia (Fencing)

"I think it is extremely important to work with the next generation, whether they are in my sport or not, because it helps them, and hopefully inspires them to want to be the best they can be at whatever it is they enjoy.

“I get a lot from working with children, I enjoy it and it is a valuable skill to learn as a young adult." 


4. Etienne Stott (Canoeing)

"It is really important for me to put what I can back into the sport. I love my sport, it has given me so much and I would like many others to have the chance to go on a journey like the one I've had.

“I remember when I was a kid starting out, I met some of my heroes and idols, and it had a profound effect on me. I thought that if they could do it, perhaps I could too. I see what I'm doing now as perpetuating that effect. It would be so cool to know that I have inspired people to take up my sport or any sport because it is such a good thing to get involved in.”

3. Corinna Lawrence (Fencing)

“I have been so fortunate to have such brilliant support, and through volunteering at a Fencing Club and speaking at schools and local sporting events, I hope to inspire the next generation. I want to help them believe that their dreams can come true, and most importantly, that hard work towards your goals is the greatest measure of success.

“I love helping young people, and guiding them towards their dreams. I love teaching them new moves that they get so frustrated over not being able to execute, until one day, they can, and their smile fills the room. If I can make even the smallest difference to further our next generation, then my role as an athlete is fulfilled.”

2. Jodie Amos (Equestrian)

"Inspiring the next generation is what it's all about, teaching younger people the work ethic whilst encouraging them to pursue their dreams and live their passion.

"I remember very well how it all began, obsessed with my sport and completely in awe of my peers, dreaming of 'one day'. Now we have our opportunity to give something back to this younger generation and hopefully inspire them to believe in those dreams.

"I love supporting younger riders, watching that spark in someone talented and overseeing their progression, helping them to pursue their ambitions."

1. Alex Danson (Hockey)

“Ask any sports person how or why they got into sport and most people can name someone special that inspired them, often a volunteer. For me it was my PE teacher and club captain, having been lucky enough to have this I feel it's our privilege and mission to try and do the same for our future generation.

“Going to schools, clubs and the community gives me a huge amount of inspiration, without all the amazing work that goes on at grass roots level, sports simply would not exist. It's always heaps of fun and I feel lucky that I can share my passion for sport with like-minded people.

“I have been lucky enough to meet so many wonderful people and join in at many different events, from our local hockey club where I am a patron and active supporter, a charity aerobicsathon for Macmillan to speaking at the Local Woman's Institute group.” 

Katherine Cooksley (Equestrian), Dani Evans (Equestrian) and Dan Bentley (Boccia), who are no longer on the National Lottery supported World Class Programme, also contributed significantly to the 10,000 days.  

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