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GLL Sport Foundation invites talented athletes to apply for 2023 Sports Awards as part of its 15th year anniversary

The UK’s largest independent athlete support programme opens its annual Award programme for new applications today (20 December 2022).

Talented athletes from across 65 areas across the UK are invited to apply for a range of support awards which include financial support, access to sport facilities, physiotherapy, lifestyle mentoring and mental health support.

The GLL Sport Foundation celebrates its 15th year in 2023 and it is the UK’s largest independent athlete award programme which has so far contributed over £13m to help over 24,000 athletes on their sporting journey.

The innovative scheme is provided by charitable social enterprise GLL and expects to award £1.2m worth of help in 2023 for successful applicants. Already a popular and essential support programme for athletes, the Foundation is expecting heightened athlete interest as the cost of living crisis hits and training costs, equipment purchases, strength & conditioning costs and travel costs continue to rise.  

All successful applicants will be given access to the 250 sport and leisure facilities across the UK operated by GLL under its “Better” trading brand.

Applications open from 20 December 2022 until 20th February 2023.

The award application announcement for 2023 was made at Lee Valley VeloPark, following the commencement of GLL’s newest partnership with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA). This means that athletes based at LVRPA’s world class facilities are now able to join the GLL Sport Foundation, including Lee Valley VeloPark (which hosted the Commonwealth Games Track Cycling event in 2022), Lee Valley White Water Centre (hosting the ICF Canoe World Slalom Championships in 2023), Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Lee Valley Athletics Centre, Lee Valley Riding Centre, and the new £30m Lee Valley Ice Centre (opening in 2023).

This is in addition to a number of other world class venues – the London Aquatics Centre and Copper Box Arena on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Manchester’s Aquatics Centre (reopens 2023) and National Cycling Centre.

Over the past 15 years, GLL Sport Foundation supported athletes have excelled in major competitions and have gained 76 Olympic and Paralympic medals and 77 Commonwealth Games medals. Previous holders of GSF awards include Darryl Neita (athletics), Anna Hursey (table tennis), Charlotte Worthington (BMX), Alex Yee (triathlon), boxers Anthony Joshua, Aiden and Michaela Walsh, divers Tom Daley, Matty Lee and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, swimmers Tully Kearney, Susie Rodgers, Tom Dean and Ellie Simmons.

It has always however been a core mission of the programme to support young emerging talent on their sporting journey, with the majority of athletes aged under the age of 21 and the largest cohort under 18 years old. Across the programme, 87% of athletes receive no other funding or athlete support, which underlines the importance of the scheme to both athletes and GLL’s social values.

Speaking at the launch of the awards at Lee Valley VeloPark, Peter Bundey, GLL Sport Foundation Chair, paid tribute to the support of Foundation Patron Sally Gunnell and all partners involved in the programme including; SportsAid, Mary Peters Trust, SportsAid Wales, sponsors, medical and local authority partners and a new collaboration for 2023 with Switch The Play, who will provide wider mentoring and mental health support.  “Our awards work alongside a number of national talent pathways, provide a lifeline to individual athletes as well as helping local communities discover the opportunities and enrichment that comes through sport”. 

Daryll Neita, who secured a bronze in the women’s 100m and a silver in the 4×4 100m relay at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games said:  “I am so thankful for the support I have received from GLL Sport Foundation. My first individual medal ever is extremely special and I would not be here if it wasn’t for the support I have received from the GLL ‘family’.”

The successful impact of the Foundation is important to Patron Sally Gunnell OBE, who remains the only athlete to hold consecutive Olympic, World and Commonwealth titles.  She said:  “From my own experience starting out as a young athlete and progressing through my sport, I understand how important the recognition and support from organisations like the GLL Sport Foundation can be to a young athletes. It can make the difference in achieving sporting ambitions.

“This is ever-more important today as we recover from a difficult and challenging two years, where dreams have been put on hold and sport had to stop. Athletes can now refocus having re-started competition and working towards those goals with the support of the GLL Sport Foundation.”

Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said: “We’re delighted to support the GLL Sport Foundation Awards in 2023 – it’s an extension of the commitment we consistently make to communities across the region.

“These are hard times for athletes so any extra financial or practical help is welcomed ahead of national and international competition.

“Like the GLL Sport Foundation, our venues are truly inspiring, offering world class facilities for athletes and anyone who wants to take part in sports and physical activity for fun and health.”

Applications are open until 20th February 2023 via the website portal –

About GLL/Better

Established in 1993, GLL is the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering leisure, health and community services. Operating under the Better brand, we manage 258 public sport and leisure centres, 113 libraries and 10 children’s centres in partnership with 50 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations. GLL has 850,000 members and welcomes 46 million customer visits per year.

Co-founder and CEO of GLL, Mark Sesnan OBE, is stepping down from his role at the end of 2022. Mark has been a key figure in the social enterprise movement for over 30 years, and under his tenure GLL has grown to being one of the country’s largest and most successful social enterprises. Find out more about Mark’s involvement with GLL here.

GSF athletes attending the GSF Awards launch event at Lee Valley VeloPark were:

Will Kirk – triathlete

Jonty Yin – taekwondo

Kimberley Woods – canoe slalom

Joe Clarke – canoe slalom

Nikita Setchell – canoe slalom

Prince Reid – para athletics

Chris Reid – para athletics

Gavin Rumgay – table tennis

Amy Holder – discus

Susanna Banjo – athletics

Catherine Demont – swimming masters