BUDDING sports stars on the Isle of Wight dreaming of medal success in the Olympics and other major competition, can benefit from the local authority's Talented Athlete Scheme, which is now open to applicants.

The Isle of Wight Council’s sports unit is now accepting applications for the 2021-22 scheme, which was established to help those gifted in their particular sports by offering discounted access to a variety of services.

Talented athletes who meet the scheme’s criteria, can use the council’s leisure centres free of charge.

They will also receive discounts in selected local retailers, physio and chiropractic services, as well as discounted travel on Wightlink ferries.

Last year’s programme helped more than 70 athletes, aged from ten to 83, representing 21 different sports.

Lee Matthews, County Hall's leisure, recreation and public spaces manager, said: “The scheme supports our home-grown sportsmen and sportswomen of all ages. 

"I would urge our local gifted athletes to apply and take advantage of the discounts on offer.

"It helps with the costs of using leisure facilities, or travelling around the Island and the mainland for sporting fixtures or training. 

"I would like to thank all our sponsorship partners for coming on board again, especially our main sponsor, Wightlink. Without them, this scheme would not happen.”

The council is able to offer:

  • Discounted Wightlink travel.
  • Free access to the council’s 1Leisure facilities at Medina, the Heights and Westridge.
  • In-store discounts at Love Running.

Wightlink marketing and innovation director, Stuart James, said: “We are really proud to continue our long standing support for the scheme, which plays such a crucial role in helping the Island’s most gifted sportsmen and women.

"When competing at a county or national level, regular cross-Solent travel is essential, so we are delighted to step in with support so that talented athletes can continue to progress within their chosen sports and fly the flag for the Isle of Wight.”

For young people currently competing at a Hampshire county level or above, the scheme provides support to access and train for top level competition within their chosen sport.

The scheme offers the same support for adults representing England or Great Britain, and those who are recognised by their sport governing body as a potential talent.

Many sporting stars have benefited already from the scheme. They include 10,000m athlete Jessica Andrews (now Martin), who competed at the Rio Olympics, and hammer thrower Andrew Frost, who competed in the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

To check if you can apply and to get an application pack, visit: www.iwight.com/sportsunit 

You can also email the council's sports unit to: talented.athlete@iow.gov.uk

The deadline for applications is Sunday, November 21. Successful applicants will be informed in January. The scheme applies to Isle of Wight residents only.