Souleyman Bah (coach: Richard Holt, club: Kingston & Poly), Joseph Dewar (Gladys Bird, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) and Jessica Hunter (Scott Grace, Vale of Aylesbury) received the inaugural Sport England ‘Backing the Best’ awards at the launch of the programme at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park last week .
Over 60 talented young people from across the country have been given bursaries of up to £5,000 per year to help cover expensive costs such as travel, accommodation, nutrition and medical bills.
SportsAid, the charity which helps the next generation of British sports stars by giving them financial support and recognition during the critical early stages of their careers, is delivering the scheme – the first of its kind in this country, after receiving £5.5 million of new National Lottery funding.
Dewar enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2015, winning 100m silver medal at the European Junior Championships in Eskilstuna, Sweden. The 20 year-old was making his international debut for the British team and made it one to remember as he finished behind Ojie Edoburun (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) to claim a spot on the podium.
Jess Hunter was the standout U20 athlete over 100m hurdles in 2015, leading the UK rankings with a 13.66 clocking at the English Schools Championships in Gateshead. She went on to win those notable championships in her first year focusing solely on the hurdles.
Hunter was brought up in care and credits athletics for keeping her grounded. However, despite her natural ability, she struggles to afford physio and specialist training camps, which her coaches believe would make all the difference to her future as a potential medal winner.
Bah competed at the Paralympic School Games in Brazil last year, winning the T13 100m at the event. With a best of 11.84 recorded in Bedford last August, the 17 year-old is making swift progress in his classification.