As the new winter sport season gets underway, three 2016 Youth Winter Olympic medallists have received big boosts to their new campaigns after being shortlisted for SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award.
Youth Olympic champions Madi Rowlands and Ashleigh Pittaway, as well as bronze medallist Kelsea Purchell, are among ten athletes to be shortlisted for the award, of which six previous winners competed for Team GB at this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.
The annual award, which will be presented at the charity’s 40th anniversary SportsBall in London on November 24, was first given to double Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley back in 2006, with fellow winners including hockey player Harry Martin, sprinter Jodie Williams, shooter Amber Hill and heptathlete Morgan Lake.
Rowlands, Pittaway and Purchell, in addition to the other seven nominees, have been selected from 1,100 rising British stars supported by SportsAid across more than 60 different sports, nominated by their sport’s governing body based on their talent and potential to succeed.
SportsAid has supported thousands of athletes during the critical early stages of their careers over the last four decades, with Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah, Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Kenny among those to benefit from their support.
The charity, who provide athletes with financial support and recognition, was well-represented in Rio this summer, winning 46 out of Team GB’s 67 medals, including 20 golds.
And 16-year-old Rowlands, who won ski halfpipe gold and slopestyle bronze at the Games in Lillehammer in February, couldn’t be more grateful for the charity’s support.
“It’s amazing to be nominated for the One-to-Watch Award. SportsAid’s support has been really good for me,” she said.
“I’m able to use the funding on flights and accommodation, and it really helps me out. It’s a huge confidence boost knowing they are behind me and backing me. It’s good to know someone has my back.”
And 16-year-old Pittaway, who clinched skeleton gold in Lillehammer, admits she had to pinch herself when she learnt of her nomination for the award.
“I was blown away when I found out I was on the shortlist. I could not believe it as there are so many other worthy athletes in the country so to be in the top ten is really special,” she said.
“I feel really honoured just to be a part of the top ten. SportsAid have been fantastic this year. I remember when I was at the Youth Olympics and I won my gold medal, they were there at the finish line congratulating me.
“But they’re not just with you for the medal moments; they are supporting you the whole time throughout the year.”
Monobob bronze medallist Purchell, 18, added: “The Youth Olympics were back in February so to still see my achievements recognised by being nominated for this award is great.
“During the Youth Olympics, SportsAid were so supportive, tweeting my results and reporting on how I was getting on. But the thing is, they have been involved right the way through the season and that’s been really nice.”
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