THE BLOG

A Top Class Support Network Is the Key

30/08/2013 09:30 BST | Updated 29/10/2013 09:12 GMT

In sport, talent is incredibly important, but it isn't the be-all and end-all. Through more than 20 years' involvement in elite athletics I've learned that talent never guarantees success. I've coached some of the most decorated British athletes of the last two decades including Roger Black to 400m silver at the 1996 Olympics, Marlon Devonish to Olympic 4x100m relay gold in 2004 and Nicola Sanders to 400m silver at the 2007 World Championships. They all possessed talent, but there are other qualities that mark a potential Olympic, Paralympic or world champion aside from the rest.

Dedication is important, but it's also crucial that every athlete has the best possible support network every step of the way. This is a massive area that involves training, nutrition and guidance which can make the difference between success and failure.

Many athletes train six times a week and have to struggle with travel and coaching costs. A shoestring budget can also make it difficult to get hands on the right nutrition and medical expertise.

On top of external concerns, these young stars then have to cope with the strains and pressures of high-level competition every week.

That's where a programme like Sky Sports Scholarships comes in. We've awarded twelve young athletes with a three-year scholarship where we'll be helping some of the brightest talents in boxing, cycling, athletics, swimming and speed-skating pursue dreams of medals on the world stage.

You may already recognise some of the names: Jack Bateson (boxing), Holly Bleasdale (pole vault), Olivia Breen (sprints), Elise Christie (speed skating), Lucy Garner (cycling), Quillan Isidore (BMX), Jessica Judd (800m), Savannah Marshall (boxing), Siobhan O'Connor (swimming), Sam Oldham (gymnastics), Louis Persent (400m) and Jason Quigley (boxing).

You can find out more about the latest intake here.

The Sky Sports Scholarship will make it easier to balance the pressures of training, living expense and elite competition, providing a support network that is so important for the scholars.

We'll be looking closely at the requirements of each athlete and tailoring the scheme to their specific training and competition needs.

This scholarship marks the beginning of an exciting relationship between the athletes and Sky. We've selected not only promising athletes, but role models who are keen to champion their sport and inspire others to get involved. It's a fantastic opportunity for the athletes in terms of both competition and their wider influence outside of their sport.

It's an exciting chance to work with the stars of tomorrow, and we can't wait to help each of them get closer to their goals.