A scheme which supports some of the Island’s most promising sporting stars has been extended by 6 months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It means the group of 79 sportspeople who qualified for the latest 2020 Talented Athlete Scheme will continue to receive support well into 2021, when hopefully the crisis will have passed.
The scheme, run by the Isle of Wight Council, helps athletes who are competing at county level or above with discounted travel for mainland training and events, courtesy of Wightlink.
Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart, said:
“The sporting calendar may have been obliterated for the foreseeable future by Covid-19, but we did not want this year’s talented athletes to lose out.
“Many are unable to train because of the government’s lockdown measures or have seen their championships postponed or cancelled altogether.
“Extending the scheme by six months will give them the chance to build for 2021 and provide, at the very least, a full year of competition.
“The knock-on effect of this is that the application window for future years will move to August/September time.
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“We feel this is the best approach for the majority — it doesn’t penalise anyone who has recently been accepted onto the scheme and allows everyone time to achieve the performance levels required to be accepted in 2021/22.”
This year’s group of sportspeople, aged from 9 to 81, represent 20 different sports including surfing for the very first time with 11-year-old Jago Tasker receiving support. Jago has been competing nationally at Surf England events and came fifth in the Rip Curl Grom Search 2019.
Athletes also receive free access to the council’s 1Leisure Fitness facilities across the Island, as well as discounted treatments from RMA Sports Injury Clinic and Cowes Chiropractic Clinic and special rates at Love Running. The value of the scheme is upwards of £2,000 per athlete.
Stuart James, Wightlink’s marketing and innovation director, has said:
“We have supported the Talented Athlete scheme for a number of years and really understand the difference it makes to the individuals involved.
“Even during these unprecedented times we are amazed at the dedication of the Island’s sporting talent who continue to find ways to train and keep fit under difficult circumstances and are proud to support them.
“Wightlink is really pleased to be able to play a part in helping the Island’s future sporting stars as they progress within their chosen sports and looks forward to supporting them with cross-Solent travel when sporting fixtures resume.”