13:43 Friday 21 February 2014

Seventh heaven for South Derbyshire sport stars as athletes are handed a slice of a £24,600 ICON network grant

Written byDAVID BROOME

SEVEN South Derbyshire athletes have earned a slice of a fund totalling £24,600 thanks to Derbyshire Sport’s business network ICON.

Each of the 142 Derbyshire sports stars are either competing internationally, have won a national championship medal, or are part of a recognised national development squad within their sport, and will receive a bursary of up to £250 to help them meet training costs such as travel, equipment, coaching fees or competition costs.

The local athletes, who will also be offered free access to gyms run by their local authority, are archer Thomas Taylor, netball stars Brittany Coleman and Tamikah Campbell, paddlesport youngsters Ross Orme, sailor James Hadden, swimmer Lewis White and Taekwondo prodigy Liam Richardson.

Taylor, 19 and from Etwall, won team silver in the Junior Men’s Compound at the European Junior Cup in Slovenia and is a member of the Great Britain Junior Compound Squad.

Swadlincote’s Coleman, 16, is a member of the England Under-17 squad and the Loughborough Lightning Under-19 national performance league squad.

Orme, 15 and from Woodville, is a member of the West Midlands Junior Talent Academy (sprint) and the GB Marathon Development Squad.

He won the five-kilometre K2 in the Under-16 International Sobeka Sprint and achieved second place in the 1,000m K2.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Hadden, from Hilton, is currently training full-time as part of the British Sailing Team.

Hadden competes in the Men’s Heavyweight Dinghy - the Finn and has been ranked in the top five in the UK for the last three years.

His goals for the 2014 season are to continue to improve on his current world ranking of 45th, and to finish in the top 30 at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in September.

Campbell, 17 and from Burton, is a member of the England Under-19 development squad and plays for Loughborough Lightning in the Netball Performance League.

She is also a member of Southgate Netball Club.

Swadlincote’s White, 13, competed at the DSE National Short Course Disability Championships, winning four medals and achieving seven personal bests.

He also won six gold medals and Top Boy at the National Junior Disability Championships and swam at the British Disability International Swimming Championships, gaining a place in five finals.

White was selected by British Para-Swimming onto the World Class Podium Potential Programme and trains with City of Derby Swimming Club.

Finally, Richardson, 15 and from Overseal, won silver and bronze in the World Championships, as well as gold in the English and Scottish Championships.

Councillor Paul Smith, chair of Derbyshire Sport, said: “We are extremely grateful to all the members of ICON for supporting local talent, as without their help it would not be possible to award these bursaries.

“Derbyshire has a great wealth of sporting talent in a wide range of sports, and it is important that this talent is identified and supported. Training and competing as an elite athlete can be really expensive, and also sometimes quite solitary, so I know that those receiving a bursary really do value it, and that the recognition the scheme gives also provides a great confidence boost and a sense that local people are supporting them.

“This is the seventh year that these awards have been made, and demand for this support has grown year on year, giving our bursary panel some very tough decisions to make. We are very keen to be able to provide more support for these athletes, and to support more athletes, and in order to do so would encourage more local businesses to consider becoming an ICON member.”

The full list, which can be found at www.derbyshiresport.co.uk/icon, includes future Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, and those aiming to compete at future Commonwealth Games.

Despite competing at such a high level, most of the athletes receive no other financial support and often spend thousands of pounds each year on things such as travel, accommodation, clothing, equipment and coaching, in order to compete.

Hayley Lever, Director of Derbyshire Sport, said: “There was great enthusiasm for the 2012 Games in Derbyshire and it was fantastic to see local athletes such as cyclist Annie Last and wheelchair basketball player Maddie Thompson competing for Great Britain on the world stage. With the support of ICON we look forward to seeing more Derbyshire athletes following in their footsteps.

“There is a lot of work happening across the county and city to encourage more people to get active and support those with talent, and we are looking for new businesses to work with and become members of ICON. Contributions can be financial, or in kind, such as discounted memberships or sports kit - large or small - we are keen to work with businesses to determine the role that they can play and would welcome initial discussions without commitment.”

In return for supporting Derbyshire’s talented young athletes, ICON members receive regular updates on the successes of Derbyshire athletes, information about active workplace initiatives and participation events, and support to develop links with other businesses that share an interest in sport and leisure with an invitation to attend a range of networking events.

ICON was set up by Derbyshire Sport as part of the work to create a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Games in Derbyshire and encourage more links between business and sport in Derbyshire. Each ICON member contributes an annual membership fee, and this money goes directly to athletes through the bursary scheme.

More information about ICON, including how to become a member, is available from Rachel Felix on 01773 571224 or rachel.felix@derbyshire.gov.uk.

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