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21 October 2013

Grant boost for two Buckinghamshire athletes

Two hard-working young athletes from Burnham and Aylesbury have each received a boost to their careers with a £750 grant from the Bucks SportsAid Foundation.



(Photo L-R: Dan Greene, Sarah Winckless, George Winsborrow) 

Twenty-four-year-old sprinter and MENCAP athlete Dan Greene, together with teenage wheelchair basketball player George Winsborrow, received their cheques from local rower and former double world champion Sarah Winckless, at a special Bucks Sporting Lunch Club event last Friday (October 18) at Dorney Lake.

Thanks to the backing of sponsors and supporters from many local businesses who attended, the lunch also raised a superb £4,000 for SportsAid to help fund future grants.

Sports-mad Dan, who attends Langley College, is a 60 metre and 100 metre runner and trains at the Brunel & Eton Athletic Track, where he receives one-to-one training from top athlete Rion Pierre, who in turn is coached by Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie.

A member of the Windsor, Slough and Eton Athletics Club, Dan developed learning differences after being diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was just a few months old.

He attended Stony Dean School in Amersham and at 15 took up athletics, training at first up to five times a week with professional athletics coach Rodger Hughes.  Dan now regularly competes in open club competitions with mainstream athletes, as well as at MENCAP-organised events across the UK and has also competed in France.

Mum Gail said:  “Dan has a fantastic ability and wants to achieve so much. He is very determined and has secured some fast times, now he wants to train harder to be more consistent so he can join the international squad.

“Rion has taken Dan under his wing and we’ll be spending the grant on more training sessions, which will be very helpful.”

Aylesbury-based wheelchair basketball player George, 17, took up the sport aged just nine, after being introduced to it at a Wheelpower multi-sport weekend for disabled children.

By the age of 13 he was playing in the under 15 and under 19 teams for the town’s Aces wheelchair basketball club, based at the Guttman sports centre, Stoke Mandeville, and for the last three years has represented the South of England team in the Sainsburys UK Schools Games, twice winning a bronze medal. Last year the team played at the Excel Centre in London, just ahead of the Olympic Games.

Now part of the senior Aces squad, which plays in division one, he spends a lot of weekends travelling throughout the south east of England to take part in competitions, and also provides help for junior members at training sessions.

Currently studying at the town’s Hayden Training College, his next ambition is to be picked for the junior GB squad.

His father Jez said: “George is very proud of the award and extremely grateful to SportsAid. He plans to spend the grant on new tyres, a spare wheel and inner tubes, as well as training subs and travelling expenses, and if there is any money left he will use it to hire a court to practice drills and shooting.  He is also keen to join his local gym to work on his fitness.”

Winckless, who was guest of honour at the lunch, won a bronze medal in the Double sculls at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and was world champion in 2005 and 2006.

She received SportsAid funding when just 18, and told the audience how the huge amount of support she had had throughout her career had helped her achieve her goals. Having retired from competitive rowing in 2009, she continues to give back to sport as the Chair of the British Olympic Association Athletes' Commission.

“Someone once told me that when you are working with people, be that in an office, be that with young people or old, look for gold and keep mining around that point,” she said. “We all have gold within us and there is an opportunity in each and every one of us to fan the flame and keep being inspired, as SportsAid absolutely continues to inspire me.”

Bucks Sporting Lunch Club events are supported by local businesses as part of a fundraising programme to help young sports stars of the future with training, equipment and travelling expenses.

David MacGregor, chairman of sponsor Television Systems Limited, said: “TSL, together with our fellow sponsors, are proud and delighted to support the Bucks Sporting Lunch Club.  The numbers attending today’s event show that local businesses are getting together to give financial help to local athletes, both disabled and able bodied. They are the stars of the future and we wish them all well in their careers.”

The lunch is also supported by fellow local businesses: law firm B P Collins; independent financial advisers Austyn James Wealth Management; accountants Harwood Hutton, Sytner High Wycombe; Evolution Live and Bucks New University.

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