Sky Scholarships

Sky Sports Scholarships - They're back...

Last Updated: 30/10/13 2:58pm

Having been selected for the Sky Sports Scholarship programme, our 12 young athletes sat down with Sky Sports to explain their goals, ambitions and how the scholarship will benefit them.

The determination to not only qualify, but succeed, at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro was an overriding theme amongst all of our scholars but with three years until then there was also talk of the more immediate challenges they face.

Following in the footsteps of the likes of Louis Smith and Katie Taylor was also something the scholars took great inspiration from whilst the athletes also explained the gruelling nature of their training schedules and spoke about some of their biggest successes to date.

Jason Quigley

Irish boxer Jason Quigley admitted that it was a surreal moment when he first heard he had been chosen as one of the Sky Sports Scholars and is positive that the scheme will only help him to improve on his already impressive list of achievements.

"At the start it didn't feel real," he said. "It was a weird kind of feeling, it was massive. It gives you a lift to be involved with Sky - its worldwide, it's not just a national TV organisation, it's worldwide and it's great to be involved now as I'm breaking onto the scene.

"Media training is going to be a lot for me now because of all the interviews and TV appearances I'm doing at the minute. Of course, it's going to help me out massively with my training and it's just going to give me more security now, more stability in myself and be able to set up a more elite programme around me. Just allowing me to focus fully on my boxing and making my dreams come true."

Savannah Marshall

Savannah Marshall was similarly excited about the scholarship and in particular the media training that the scholars will receive.

"It's amazing, before I came for the interviews I didn't ever think I'd get picked," said the boxer. "I think it'll help me more with my confidence, dealing with media and stuff like that - performing in front of big crowds like 2012. That's what I'm hoping is the biggest thing I can from this.

As for how it made her feel to be grouped alongside the likes of former scholar Taylor, a smiling Savannah replied: "Quite famous."

Jessica Judd

Jessica Judd competed for Team GB in the 800m at the World Athletics Championships this summer and is confident that with the help of Sky Sports she will be able to challenge for medals in future major championships.

Excited

"I was just really excited," Judd said. "I was so happy to have been chosen. It's just great to have that type of support behind you and that believe that in you, that's great. As soon as someone gets behind you and helps you it just makes you more confident and excited for what's to come.

"All the advice is going to be crucial and I'm really excited as well to mix with different people doing the same thing. Obviously, it's different sports as well so I think we can all learn from each other. The funding itself will just be amazing; you know to have no limitations. I'm really excited to go abroad and do warm weather training and things I haven't quite done yet."

Siobhan Marie O'Connor

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, a 17-year-old swimmer, believes that whilst the scheme is a fantastic chance for her and the other athletes, it also presents them with an opportunity to help out others, specifically in terms of showing youngsters how sport can benefit them.

"I was over the moon! I was so nervous for the interview; it's such an amazing opportunity for up and coming athletes like myself," she said. "I'm so thankful that they chose me.

"This is such a crucial time for swimming, I know there's a big push from the government to try and encourage youngsters to swim and I'd like to help set an example that with hard work and dedication, just the participation with swimming, where it can get you."

Louis Persent

Meanwhile, 400m runner Louis Persent feels that the scholarship is a real boost and shows the effort the athletes have put in is appreciated.

"It was incredible," he said. "It was great to have support from someone like Sky and to have someone else's confirmation that what you're doing is valued and that they're going to support you and stand by you.

"It came at a critical time really because of the injuries. There are so many pressures just trying to keep going with sport - financially and motivation-wise - but it came at a really important time. My reaction was pretty much just 'wow, let's make sure everything I do now is geared towards winning at medal at Rio'."

Jack Bateson

Jack Bateson gave an insight into the life of a boxer hoping to make the Olympics and spoke of how Taylor's success has helped to motivate him.

"I train six days a week," the 19-year-old explained. "By the time you get home your body is in bits so you need that rest day.

"It's (the Sky Sports Scholarship) a brilliant opportunity for me and I remember Katie Taylor was a part of the team leading up to London and it's done amazing things for her. She's obviously come back with the gold, it's just great to have Sky's support behind me and hopefully I can go to Rio and come back with a medal and say Sky's helped me."

Quilian Isidore

Quillan Isidore knows all about the difficulties of getting funding a true minority sport such as BMX and is delighted about the added stability the Sky Sports Scholarship will provide him.

"This is going to help me so much, throughout the four years it's going to help my life and make training for my sport so much easier," Quillan said. "It's only going to be a benefit for me, and Sky as well.

"It's really tough with the competition being in Europe and around the world, having to travel and sometimes you don't get selected for GB because of funding as well. It doesn't benefit you as much just racing in your home country and (there's) not as much competition. This year I sort of lost out because of it. It'll make such a big different with allowing me to travel and get all the latest equipment and everything that will benefit me."

Lucy Garner

Cyclist Lucy Garner rides for a Dutch team and that can create issues in itself but the teenager has relished the test and expects the scholarship programme to allow her to train in warmer climes during the winter.

"Being based in a different country, that's been quite hard. It's been a challenge but I've really enjoyed it," she said.

"I was really privileged to have got it, it's definitely something that's going to help me so much in the future. My team's a Dutch team so I'm based there and having to travel backwards and forwards, either training or just to see family. Also in the winter, I have to go abroad training because, obviously, when its snow I can't go out on my bike. It's going to help so much."

Inspire

Olivia Breen revealed that even she had been surprised by the progress she made in the early months of 2012 that led to her inclusion in the GB Paralympic squad for the T38 100m, 200m and the T35/38 4x100m relay, but, she now hopes to use that experience to help encourage the younger generation to take up sport.

"I never dreamt I was going to be in 2012, I always thought Rio was my goal but to be selected for London was amazing. It's really fun to get sport out there and tell people how sport can change your life really," she said.

"I just want to get people inspired by sport, to get them into athletics, and get them into running to see that sport can make a massive different in your life really. Instead of sitting by a computer, just get them out there and inspire them."

Holly Bleasdale

The chance to get children participating is something Holly Bleasdale is very passionate about - and the pole vaulter is keen to stress how big a part sport has played in throughout her life.

"I really excited, it's a massive, massive opportunity for me to be associated with such a great, big brand," she said. "It's really good that the aim of it is to get kids involved in sport as I always love going into primary schools and teaching little kids about my event, especially, and all sport really.

"Everything in my life is about sport. I'm studying sport in my degree, I'm obviously a professional athlete and I don't know what I'd do without sport. "

Elsie Christie

Elise Christie hopes the added exposure that she will get through the scholarship will help to get more youngsters involved in speed skating and ensure the sport can have a bright future.

"I'd love to get the sport better known so the kids can take part more because it is a lot of fun to take part in," she said.

"I think it (sport) has taught me a lot about being determined and doing something a bit different with your life. I always say you can do anything you want to, you just have to make a change to do it. I think it's taught me to be a bit of a stronger person."

Sam Oldham

Olympic bronze medal-winning gymnast Sam Oldham was thrilled to have been named amongst other such talented athletes and spoke of the responsibility of those in his position to show themselves to be good role models.

"I'm really excited about being a Sky scholar, it's an amazing scheme," he said. "The other athletes that are involved, it's an honour and a privilege to be picked alongside them to be part of this.

"It's somewhere that I can give back again to the younger generation, the people coming through, and being seen as a role model - I take that quite seriously. I'm really looking forward to being part of the scheme and working with Sky."