Para-Athletics star Kirsty Taylor believes the financial support of Entain Holdings and SportsAid could be the key ingredient in allowing her to reach her full potential.
The 20-year-old – from Caldicot – is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.
Having captained the GB team at the 2019 World Para Athletics Junior Championships – where she won silver medals in both the T42-64 100m and 200m events – and gone on to feature at the Anniversary Games and this year’s British Championships, Taylor is already targeting next summer’s rearranged European Championships as the next stepping stone in her career.
But after moving to Loughborough University – where she is currently a second year human biology student – the T44 sprinter and long jumper insists the support of Entain and SportsAid is crucial to making sure she is suitably equipped to performance at her best on the track.
“At home my parents can drive me to competitions and support me financially, but stepping out on your own means you have to rely on yourself for everything,” said Taylor, one of 50 beneficiaries of Entain’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.
“Financially, the support takes a huge weight off my shoulders. It enables me to do my sport, to do my competitions, and to book a hotel the night before so that I can perform at my best. It’s the little things a lot of the time but they add up to make a big difference.
“It’s an expensive lifestyle and having the resources to compete is so important. As I’m entering more competitions the travel costs are increasing all the time, so it’s such a relief to know I have the backing of the programme and I’m hugely grateful.”
As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.
The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.
Besides the financial help, Taylor is in no doubt of the wide-ranging psychological benefits of the scheme, explaining how the knowledge of the backing from Entain and SportsAid has motivated her to keep climbing towards the top of the sport.
She said: “Knowing people outside of my personal bubble believe in me and can see my potential is a huge confidence boost, and something I find really exciting.
“There’s always a personal touch added to it as well. I’ve received good luck and congratulations messages while I’ve been away at competitions, which shows that they really care about their athletes and does make you smile.”
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.