GB Softball and Baseball athletes win Backing The Best awards

Tue 15 May 2018

Two young athletes each from the GB Softball and GB Baseball programmes have won Backing The Best awards, managed by SportsAid on behalf of Sport England, for 2018.

They are Chelsie Robison and Sian Wigington from GB Softball and Coby Hargan and Joe Rawcliffe from GB Baseball.

The Backing The Best programme was launched in 2016, with £5.5 million of National Lottery funding over a four-year period, to support athletes who would face difficulties progressing through their sport’s talent development system without critical financial help.

A total of 70 athletes were supported in 2016 and 95 in 2017, while 115 athletes will gain backing this year from 35 different sports.  Of that total, 57 athletes were re-nominated after receiving Backing The Best awards in 2017, while 58 new athletes have joined the programme this year.

Chelsie Robison and Coby Hargan both receiving Backing The Best awards in 2017, while Sian Wigington and Joe Rawcliffe are new to the programme this year.

Backing The Best presents annual awards of £5,000 per athlete to help with essential costs such as travel, accommodation, kit, nutrition and medical bills, as well as extra support from coaches.

All Backing The Best athletes must demonstrate outstanding ability, as well as their family’s financial situation, to be eligible for the funding.  The programme has already produced World, European and national age-group level champions across a range of sports.


John McAvoy, a committee member of the Backing The Best awards panel, said: “Every child should be given an opportunity in life to be successful.  There is no greater waste than being able to do something but not being able to access the pathways to do it because of money.  That’s not fair.  These athletes have all got aspirations, they want to do it and Backing The Best is allowing them to go off and achieve their dreams, go forward and be very successful people.”

Phil Smith, Sport England’s Director of Sport, added: “Talent and effort alone should determine who reaches the top in their sport.  Yet many aspiring high-performance athletes have had to consider whether they can continue to pursue their sporting ambitions due to the mounting costs of competition, training, travel and specialist equipment facing them and their families at critical points in their development.

“These challenges often coincide with other educational pinch-points and lifestyle transitions and therefore it’s imperative that there is relevant and targeted support available to enable athletes of all backgrounds and circumstances to continue their journey and fulfil their potential. 

“Backing The Best is helping to level the playing field by providing aspiring athletes with the additional support to relieve this financial pressure and give these up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to fulfil the promise they have shown.”

Tim Lawler, Chief Executive of SportsAid, said: “Backing The Best provides a very targeted, informed intervention to a group of talented young athletes that are facing certain financial difficulties, trickiness in their life circumstances, that has put them at risk of dropping out.  We are really excited about Sport England’s investment into talent, committing to change and addressing those barriers.

“Backing The Best is creating an opportunity to excel, it’s looking into the darker spaces that perhaps sport and talent identification hasn’t looked before.  We’re building a platform to continue forever, to make talent and performance sport accessible, much more diverse and rich, and perhaps more beneficial to its impact in wider society too, more reflective of the country as whole.”

Watch for an upcoming story on our websites with more information about the softball and baseball Backing The Best award winners.

Award winners

Here is the full list of Backing The Best award recipients for 2018:

Amy Gott (Archery)
Cameron Donaldson (Archery)
Daniel Thompson (Archery)
Jacob Boden (Archery)
Heather Hughes (Archery)
Imogen Newby (Archery)
Kieran Shirley (Archery)
Layla Annison (Archery)
Lucy Mason (Archery)
Morgan Donaldson (Archery)
Riley Spencer Nice (Archery)
Ruby Paul (Archery)
Ryan Holden (Archery)
Shaimaa Shaimaa (Archery)

Amber Anning (Athletics)
Sam Talbot (Athletics)
Thomas Ramdhan (Athletics)

Blake Hoang (Badminton)
Liam Purton (Badminton)

Coby Hargan (Baseball)
Joseph Rawcliffe (Baseball)

Cecilia Turk (Boccia)
Rich Amos (Boccia)

Jake Abrol (Boxing)
Harry Kinsela (Boxing)
William Howe (Boxing)
Caroline Dubois (Boxing)
Courtney Scott (Boxing)
Elise Glynn (Boxing)
Gemma Richardson (Boxing)
Jessica Williams (Boxing)

Daisy Cooil (Canoeing)
Renee Myburgh (Canoeing)

Dale Smith (Disability Football)
Yann Charlot (Disability Football)

Ben Cutmore (Diving)
Richelle Houlden (Diving)

Amy Home (Fencing)
Becci Curwen (Fencing)
Luke Haynes (Fencing)
Maia Fashokun (Fencing)
Sophia Potter (Fencing)

Nicole Douglas (Football)

Caleb Nanevie (Goalball)
Filmon Eyassu (Goalball)
Mathew Loftus (Goalball)

Enrique Dimayuga (Golf)

Sarah Wilson (Modern Pentathlon)

Assaindey Tchine (Netball)
Halimat Adio (Netball)
Hannah Williams (Netball)
Olufunmilayo Fadoju (Netball)
Shelby Harris (Netball)

Mari Durward-Akhurst (Para Equestrian)

Cameron Vearncombe (Para Swimming)
Katie Crowhurst (Para Swimming)
Kieran Williams (Para Swimming)
Megan Neave (Para Swimming)

Joshua Stacey (Para Table Tennis)
Marc Bonnar (Para Table Tennis)
Shae Thakker (Para Table Tennis)

Akina Gondwe (Rugby Union)
Anya Richmond (Rugby Union)
Connie Powell (Rugby Union)
Detysha Harper (Rugby Union)
Emma Hardy (Rugby Union)
Hollie Cunningham (Rugby Union)
Holly Thorpe (Rugby Union)
Jessica Cooksey (Rugby Union)
Jodie Mallard (Rugby Union)
Leah Teague (Rugby Union)
Lilian Stoeger-Goddard (Rugby Union)
Shauna Bennett (Rugby Union)
Sophie Bridger (Rugby Union)

Harriet Rogers (Sailing)

Ellie Seward (Shooting)

Jessica Dowdeswell (Sitting volleyball)

Bradley Fry (Skiing)
Thea Fenwick (Skiing)

Scott Walsh (Snowboarding)

Chelsie Robison (Softball)
Sian Wigington (Softball)

Alice Green (Squash)
Elise Lazarus (Squash)
Jasmine Hutton (Squash)
Lucy Turmel (Squash)
Nick Wall (Squash)

Amirul Hussain (Table Tennis)
Jamie Liu (Table Tennis)
Jasmin Wong (Table Tennis)
Joshua Weatherby (Table Tennis)

Aaliyah Powell (Taekwondo)
Ellie Bowden (Taekwondo)

Jimmy Kershaw (Triathlon)

Christian Ioannou (Volleyball)
Ellena Austin (Volleyball)
Javier Bello (Volleyball)
Joaquin Bello (Volleyball)
Nasir Khan (Volleyball)
Tejah Mossman (Volleyball)
Tyler White (Volleyball)

Isabella Goode (Wakeboarding)
Jack Battleday (Wakeboarding)
Joe Battleday (Wakeboarding)
Kieran Owens (Wakeboarding)
Liam Peacock (Wakeboarding)
Ryan Peacock (Wakeboarding)

Annie Clapperton (Waterpolo)
Emily Pyper (Waterpolo)
Matthias Madden (Waterpolo)
Tom Manley (Waterpolo)

Ashley Greening (Wheelchair Basketball)
Callum Doherty (Wheelchair Basketball)
Lee Fryer (Wheelchair Basketball)
Toni Cave (Wheelchair Basketball)

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