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Elite athletes aiming for Olympic, Paralympic, World and European goals receive vital funding

Last updated: 21/3/2024

More elite athletes than ever before from across Rushcliffe have been awarded grant funding to support their efforts in their chosen sport, helping them to reach their future national, Olympic and Paralympic goals thanks to Rushcliffe Borough Council’s (RBC) Elite Sports Grant.

RBC has awarded grants to 42 athletes from across 18 different sports that are now benefitting from the vital funds to help with costs such as travel, training, accommodation, competition fees and equipment.

Athletes include Gamston resident Julia Kang, an England Women’s over 35s Touch Rugby athlete who trains locally and is part of the winning team that competed at the Touch Rugby European Championships in 2022, with fifth place in 2023.

She said: “I’ve played in two Touch World Cups in Malaysia and Australia, and I’ve played in lots of different European Championships.

“This year the World Cup comes to Nottingham so we’re playing Touch on my home turf and this year I’m hoping to reach my 75th cap, that’s my target.

“Thank you to Rushcliffe for their support with their Elite Sports Grant and the FANS scheme which allows athletes to use the fantastic facilities we’ve got in Rushcliffe.

“I think I can speak on behalf of all of us that we’re really grateful.”

Bingham resident Lewis Warner is a competitive swimmer and represents Nottinghamshire Swimming and Nottingham Leander Swimming Club in national and regional events. He trains at a number of local venues including Rushcliffe Arena.

Lewis won the U18 100m backstroke gold medal at the British Summer Championship last August and will be taking part in the British Swimming Olympic trials in April which are taking place at the London Aquatic Centre.

Lewis added: “My aim is to get onto the Olympic team for the 2028 Games in LA or 2032 Games.

“My mum was a backstroke swimmer herself and one day she suggested why don’t I try swimming, and then 12 years later I’m still doing it.

“The grant has allowed me to improve the equipment I use for training and competing. A pair of racing shorts nowadays is around £350 to £400, so the grant has allowed me to have high quality training equipment which helps to optimise my performance.”

West Bridgford resident Melissa Johnson is a GB kayaker and participates in both sprint and marathon disciplines.  

She is the current National Champion in both disciplines and achieved a bronze medal at the World Cup last year and two top ten placements at sprint and marathon World Championships last year.

Melissa said: “I’m part of Nottingham Kayak Club and I sometimes train at Holme Pierrepont too.

“I compete in two completely different disciplines which is tough, but I really enjoy the challenge.

“The sports grant will help me a lot for trips abroad for international competitions as you have to pay your own way out there.

“Thank you to Rushcliffe Borough Council for all your help, especially with the grant.

“Rushcliffe Arena in West Bridgford has a great gym and pool that really helps me with my training too.”

Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Wellbeing, ICT and Member Development Cllr Jonathan Wheeler said: “We have a fantastic talent pool in Rushcliffe, and we’re pleased to allocate funding to some of our elite athletes that can help towards managing the costs of competing and training at such a high level.

“The athletes are an inspiration with their vigorous training routines and fantastic local, national and international achievements across a variety of sports. Their dedication to their chosen sport is admirable.

“Competing at an advanced level in sport can create a financial burden for athletes that can often be a barrier to further achievements, and we want to help wherever we can.

“We take pride in having great sport in the Borough and it’s great that we can support local athletes with their future sporting aspirations, with some of the athletes hoping to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris 2024!”