Callum Hall believes funding from Entain Holdings and SportsAid will allow him to continue improving as he prepares for his first season on the elite World Marathon Series circuit.
Hall, from Leeds, is one of 50 beneficiaries of the three-year partnership which helps cover the costs of training, travel and equipment – which can be particularly costly in wheelchair racing.
“I don’t think many people realise how much that funding helps,” Hall said.
“An equipment-based sport is expensive, especially when the chairs are specialist. The money really helps towards the equipment and the maintenance. It’s an expensive sport so the funding really does make a difference.
“On top of that, you have international travel costs – if you are racing on the far side of Asia, for example, it comes in very useful.”
The initiative, part of Entain’s Pitching In, was launched in 2019 with the support of a British wheelchair racing legend, Baroness Grey-Thompson.
And Hall, who was paralysed as a result of an abscess on the spine caused by stepping on a sea urchin while on holiday in 2012, has seen the benefit of SportsAid funding particularly close to home.
“My wife (Paralympian and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jade Jones-Hall) has come through similar programmes so I understand how it does help,” he said.
“It gives you hope for years down the line. When they benefit specific athletes you look up to, you realise how good the schemes are.”
One of those athletes is David Weir, another member of the glittering SportsAid alumni who became an icon with his performances at London 2012.
“To win three track events and the marathon is insane – the guy is a machine,” Hall said.
“I race him on the road and he’s a nice guy who is happy to give tips. He’s a great advocate for the sport.”
An excellent 2019, including a fourth-placed finish at the Paris Marathon and a 1:32:49 personal best in Seoul, helped Hall win the right to represent Great Britain at the World Marathon Majors.
He begins his journey as part of the elite circuit at the London Marathon on October 4 and the former Leeds City Athletics Club member is relishing the chance to return to competitive action.
“It’s a great opportunity to try and keep up with 15 of the best in the world,” Hall said.
“I’ll give it my best shot and see what happens – it’s a chance to race again so I’m looking forward to it.”
Entain is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, Entain are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more.