Craig Allen

Leon Taylor’s Zoom classes and elite athletes’ insight is what makes GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support so special, says para table-tennis star Craig Allen.

The Bromsgrove-based player has soared to international success in his Class 9 category and is targeting a memorable hometown Commonwealth Games appearance in Birmingham in 2022.

That ambition will be fuelled by GVC and SportsAid’s funding and while the financial side of their investment is critical, it’s the wider benefits of the initiative that Allen has relished.

“The work SportsAid did over lockdown was helpful – even though there was no sport going on they still provided me with structure,” said the 25-year-old, a beneficiary of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“They put on interviews with Leon Taylor and other high-profile athletes in sport.

“They were helpful – some of them have been through long-term injuries, similarly to being in lockdown, so they could share those experiences with us and we could make the most out of that.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians, as Allen follows in the footsteps of Paralympic stars Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE in receiving SportsAid support.

Allen says that association is special and is confident GVC and SportsAid can propel him all the way to Birmingham 2022.

“It’s incredible to follow in the footsteps, and an honour, to be in a group with those people and to have gone through the same system,” he added.

“You see people who have gone through that system and what they’ve achieved off the back of it – and it makes you aware of what you can possibly achieve as well.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.