HTAS supported athletes realise Games dream
Eight athletes from the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme (HTAS) have been selected to compete in this years Olympic and Paralympic Games.
All eight athletes have received support over the years through HTAS which is organised by Sport Hampshire & IOW, the County Sports Partnership and supported by Hampshire County Council. The scheme provides a range of support services to help athletes and their families with the high costs of competing at such a high level.
The athletes who will compete are: hockey player Alex Danson originally from Southampton, athlete Rob Tobin from Basingstoke, cyclist Dani King from Eastleigh, Paralympic boccia player David Smith from Eastleigh, swimmer Andrew Willis from Hart, synchronised swimmer Vicki Lucass from Hart, wheelchair rugby player Aaron Phipps from New Forest and handball player Dan McMillan from New Forest.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, said "Congratulations to all the Hampshire athletes taking part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games at the end of this month. We are especially proud to have been able to support these eight athletes through our scheme on their journey towards a pinnacle in their careers - London 2012. On behalf of everyone at Hampshire County Council I would like to wish them all the best of luck."
To reduce the cost of training, over 60 leisure centres across the county allow athletes to use their facilities for free. Stagecoach, Bluestar and First bus companies also offer free bus passes to help HTAS athletes get to and from training and competitions. A new agreement with Southampton Solent University will provide sports science expertise within areas such as nutrition, physiology and psychology.
The eight athletes:
Alex Danson was born in Southampton and grew up in Odiham. A great ambassador for sport, Alex regularly takes time to attend events encouraging others to play sport. In 2011 she delivered an inspirational speech at the Hampshire Games, before leading the young athletes in an opening ceremony parade.
Rob Tobin competed in the Beijing Olympics coming 4th in the 4x400, in a time of 2 minutes 58.81 seconds.
Speaking about the support from the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme (HTAS) Rob said: 'Making an Olympic Games is an amazing achievement and I am very proud that this will be my third. It being a home Olympics makes it a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have been very fortunate to be supported this year by the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme, without this support I may not have made the Games. They have supported me through the most difficult time of my career in sport and I am very grateful for all their help along this difficult journey to the Olympic Games.'
Dani King will make her Olympic debut in the track cycling. She first discovered her passion for the sport aged 14, when British Cycling came to her school looking for potential talent. In 2011 she became Team Pursuit World Champion, a title she retained in 2012.
Talking about the support she has received Dani said: 'Being an amateur sports person it's important that every penny received is put to good use. Free access to my chosen gym as part of the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme has been a really huge help.'
David Smith will be competing in the Boccia. David helped ParalympicsGB to win Paralympic gold at Beijing 2008 having won his fourth consecutive British Championships just a few months earlier. His medal haul includes national, European and World titles and he is currently ranked second in the world
Andrew Willis will be competing in swimming. Andrew started swimming lessons at the age of five, at the local school pool in Yateley. Andrew said: 'The scheme was very beneficial to me and the funding paid for osteopathy treatments and also contributed to an overseas training camp that I attended.'
Vicki Lucass will be competing in synchronised swimming. Vicki started synchronised swimming when she was six when her swimming teacher encouraged her to watch a synchronised swimming lesson. She trains with the rest of the Great Britain team in Aldershot.
Aaron Phipps will be competing in Wheelchair Rugby. Aaron initially competed in Wheelchair Racing, before being convinced to try wheelchair rugby by fellow competitors.
Talking about HTAS Aaron said: 'The scheme is fantastic, I can't say enough good things about it. I honestly don't think I would have got as far as I have without it. I received a grant which helped with expensive essential equipment when I started out (in my sport a set of wheels is £1000) but the best help I have received has been the gym access it has allowed me to train when I needed to.'
Dan McMillan will be competing in Handball. Dan is relatively new to Handball having changed sports from American Football. After only one year of playing he was selected to play in the top league in the world, the German Handball Bundesliga, for team, TUSEM Essen. He has gained 38 international caps for Great Britain since 2008.
Speaking about his selection for Team GB he said: 'It has been a massive relief to finally be told that all the hard work from the past years in this Handball journey has been worth while and that I am selected to join Team GB at the Olympics in London. I would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to Hampshire County Council and Sport Hampshire & IOW who have supported me and helped me achieve this goal and dream!!!'
Applications for the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme support services open in September. For further details please visit: www.sporthampshireiow.co.uk/talentedathletes
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