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Heroes 2009
Athletes celebrate at 2009 launch

 

1 June 2009

Olympic gold medallist Jason Gardener helped to launch the 2009 UKA Heroes Project, sponsored by Original Source, as 15 lucky British youngsters were unveiled.

The project, which has extended its number from six in 2008 to 15 this time around, has seen UKA handpick athletes with ‘potential’ and who need extra support.

The cast-list for 2009 has seen Niall Flannery, Jodie Williams, Jade Ive, Alan McKie, Jordan McGrath, Abdie Ahmed, Ross Murray, Jessica Leach, Shaunna Thompson, Sarah Holt, Daniel Lucker, Izzy Jeffs, Ben Reynolds, Laura Weightman and Beth Potter all selected.

Each of the youngsters will receive £1000 in two £500 cheque payments, while one athlete will receive an extra £1000 at the end of the project chosen by Heroes Project Manager, a member of the UKA performance team and a representative from Original Source – based on commitment and performances.

The scheme was launched at the Bedford International Games on Sunday, with last year’s winner McGrath again on the list of attendees.

The 19-year-old shot to fame in 2008, winning a bronze at the Commonwealth Youth Games, a relay silver at the World Juniors and setting a new personal best of 45.54 en route to becoming the Original Source hero.

But much to McGrath’s frustration he wasn’t able to impress the crowds on the track in Bedford on Sunday.

The Birchfield Harrier tore his hamstring on his first outing of the season at the Loughborough International a fortnight ago.

But McGrath has warned his rivals he will be back to defend his crown.

“The scheme was a great help to me last year and to be back on it is a great feeling and a relief as the money comes in very handy,” said McGrath – who will receive media training on the project as well as expert tips from established athletes Richard Buck and Michael Rimmer.

“I’m out injured at the moment but once I’m fit I will be desperate to impress and win the project for a second time.

“The main aim for this season was to go and win the European Juniors but the injury has been a huge setback.

“I felt in great shape but to tear my hamstring was awful. The medical staff has said I will be out for another four weeks and that doesn’t leave me long before the championships.”

The UKA Heroes project sponsored by Original Source aims to take financial pressure off parents who make sacrifices for their child’s athletics’ career.

And one youngster, Sarah Holt, is a hammer thrower in a hurry, showing the UKA Heroes scheme really does work.

The 22-year-old Sale Harrier made a blistering start to this season last weekend when she smashed her own under-23 British record on her way to winning the Halle Throws Festival in Germany.

The West Yorkshire star threw 65.33m to take the title and extend the record she set last year by a whopping 1.58m to underline her potential for the future.

Holt is one of 15 up-and-coming athletes that will receive financial bursaries to help towards travel expenses, kit, medical support and equipment and their ultimate dream of representing Team GB at the Olympics.

And Holt admits she couldn’t have asked for a better start to the campaign, which will hopefully end in glory at the European under-23 Championships in Lithuania in July.

Last week’s record throw means she has already surpassed the qualifying distance for the Kaunas event and she said: “You can’t really ask for anything more than topping your personal best before the end of May.

“Winning in Halle was a great confidence booster and now it’s up to me to build on that result and push on for the rest of the season.

“Kaunas is the big target for the year and now that I’ve qualified I can really work hard at getting even better.

“I want to at least make the final there and after that anything can happen.

“And it helps that I’ve been invited on to the UKA Heroes Project. It’s not cheap competing across the country and across Europe and this scheme helps take away some of the strains of where the money is going to come from.”

Gardener, who was on hand at Bedford on Sunday, to ensure the newly appointed UKA Heroes received expert tutelage and advice ahead of a make or break season, added; ““The UKA Heroes Project supported by Original Source is a unique and exciting initiative.

“Supporting these up and coming young athletes with financial bursaries will have a massive impact on their careers giving them the ability to train and compete to their full potential.”

Meet this year's Heroes