Ellie Keers

A new boat is far from a cheap buy but Wimbledon sailor Ellie Keers isn’t going it alone thanks to financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

The 18-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Keers’ summer programme was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic but time was still well spent both on and off the water.

“The funding and support has been really good, it was really helpful and made a massive difference in buying a new boat,” she said.

“A new boat isn’t cheap, it cost a few thousand pounds and then you have to get things attached to it as well, so it costs a lot!

“The support was really helpful as well, it brings a lot of confidence knowing that people are backing us to do well and can see talent in us.

“I’ll be moving down to Southampton for university in a few weeks as well so the support will certainly be a big help during then as well.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

And there’s no time like the present for Keers to receive much-needed support, with this summer heralding a new era for the teenager.

“We moved out of our youth class boat this summer and moved into the 49erFX, which is an Olympic class boat,” she added.

“All the events in our other class were cancelled so we were able to get a head-start on our training.

“It was quite a bit step up, lots of it was so different from what we were used to so it does take some time to adjust to it.

“We didn’t know much about it so it was a big learning curve for us with everything that we did.”

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.