Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes, backed by UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Programme, have given back over 10,000 days to schools and communities since London 2012 in a bid to inspire the next generation through sport.
While balancing their demanding training schedules on the road to Rio and PyoengChang, 1477 athletes have worked with children and young people right across the nation, from Elgin, Scotland to Belfast, Northern Ireland, Llawhaden, Wales and Truro, England.
Activities have ranged from supporting sport development programmes, such as Sky Ride and Sportivate, to volunteering with charities, like the Youth Sport Trust and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, and mentoring young people in deprived communities or in primary schools. Some athletes have also coached or mentored talented young athletes in local or academy clubs within their sports.
The athlete inspiration days are part of a promise made by UK Sport to encourage all its funded athletes to give up to five days a year to inspire children and young people through sport. This promise was made following the unprecedented announcement, on August 12 2012, by Prime Minister David Cameron of continued government funding for elite sport beyond the lifetime of the current parliament.
This decision has allowed UK Sport to invest a record amount of over £380 million of National Lottery and Government funds for 45 summer and winter sports to prepare for Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018, to build on the incredible successes of London 2012 and Sochi 2014.
Sports Minister Helen Grant said: "Investment from the National Lottery and exchequer has contributed to the Great British success story in elite sport over the past few years. It has helped our very best athletes succeed at the highest level in Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships.
"I am delighted at our athletes' response in giving something back to the public that have given them such great support, going out into communities up and down the country and inspiring a whole new generation to get involved in sport."
Liz Nicholl, UK Sport CEO, said: “Sport is a fantastic tool to engage children and young people, and inspire them to fulfill their potential both in and out of the sporting arena. Our athletes all have incredible stories, skills and experience that can make a real impact, both sporting and non-sporting, on the next generation.
“Whether they have achieved their ultimate dream of winning an Olympic or Paralympic medal or not, their journey will have been one of dedication and hard work, struggle and sacrifice, moments of both celebration and adversity.
“Our athletes have a huge amount to offer, and I am incredibly proud of the commitment they have made to giving back 10000 days since London 2012.”
GB Hockey’s London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Alex Danson, said: “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 P.E. teacher and club captain, and having been lucky enough to have this, I feel it's both our privilege and mission to try and do the same for the next generation.”
To mark this incredible milestone of reaching 10000 days since London 2012, UK Sport will be celebrating the athletes’ endeavors this week on Twitter, and revealing our ‘top ten’ athletes who have gone well above and beyond what is expected of them to inspire the next generation. Has an athlete visited your school or sports club? Were you inspired by their stories? We’d love to hear the impact they’ve had on you. Celebrate the gift of giving back with us using #10000days @uk_sport