8:00am Sunday 20th February 2011
By Matt Watts
Young Olympic hopefuls have had their training funding withdrawn.
Charity and social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has pulled thousands of pounds in funding it gave to dozens of promising athletes in Sutton – after losing its contract to run the borough’s leisure centres.
GLL Sports Foundation gave out more than 150 financial and training awards worth more than £100,000 to Sutton athletes in the three years it worked in the borough.
But the athletes’ funding is in doubt, because as part of its charity remit, GLL cannot reinvest in communities where it does not work.
Sutton Council is looking at how the funding could be replaced.
Kerry Ford, 20, from Carshalton, who is tipped to represent Great Britain at judo in the 2016 Games, is among those missing out.
The student, who is ranked fourth in Great Britain in her category, said: “It could be a huge blow to many athletes for whom it is the only source of funding.
“It will be a dent to my preparations this year. I had hoped to use my funding to travel to compete abroad, but that won’t be possible now.”
GLL gives out grants of up to £1,500 and free leisure centre membership to athletes living or studying in the boroughs it works in.
Last year it helped 84 young Sutton hopefuls as young as 13, including disabled athletes, who all compete at county level or higher.
It had also funded Great Britain Olympic 2012 medal prospect Andy Turner, the Sutton-based European and Commonwealth champion hurdler.
GLL Sports Foundation chairman Peter Bundey said: “It’s a crying shame because Sutton is an incredibly talented sporting borough. It has been a pleasure working with all the athletes.”
GLL lost out to SLM when the contract to run the borough’s leisure centres was retendered.
The choice of contractor is understood to have been based 80 per cent on price and 20 per cent on wider social benefits.
Colin Beech, Sutton’s executive head of leisure management, said: “We are discussing a replacement scheme with SLM and we will also be helping our most talented sports people make an application to other funding pots.
“We are committed to providing access to physical activity and sport for our residents because we recognise the valuable contribution they make to people’s quality of life.”
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