Michael Farmer

Weightlifting prospect Michael Farmer has hailed SportsAid backing as a key factor in keeping him motivated to train hard during lockdown.

Farmer is among the beneficiaries of a three-year partnership between SportsAid and GVC Holdings, part of Pitching In, which helps young athletes fulfil their potential by contributing funding towards training, travel and equipment.

And when lockdown wiped his calendar free of competitions, the 21-year-old from Caerphilly admitted that support was crucial in maintaining his desire.

“I had funding from GVC last year too and I got a silver medal in the Commonwealth Championships in Samoa,” Farmer said.

“I was on a real high from last year but then we got to March and everything shut down.

“The financial incentive from having SportsAid’s backing is something which has helped keep me and a number of athletes I know going.

“There’s people relying on us and backing us and we know our worth because people want to help us. In that sense, it is definitely a motivator.”

Farmer also credited the initiative, which was launched in 2019 by Baroness Grey-Thompson, with helping him balance training and education – he has just begun a Masters in Environmental Management at Bangor University.

“I have to get up early, go and do my squats, do a full day in Uni, then go and train again in the evening,” he said.

“I enjoy the challenge but it is tough and it does help through organisations like SportsAid and GVC – without that funding it’s hard to stay on top of travel and training.

“It’s a lot of little things that add up, especially in the course of a training year. My training costs are quite a lot of money, as are my coaching fees – a lot goes into it.”

A medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is Farmer’s big ambition and he takes heart from being among the array of Team GB stars to have received SportsAid support in the past, including Sir Mo Farah and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.

“It’s very motivating to see your name as part of this elite group,” Farmer said.

“For an organisation like SportsAid, who have supported some of the very best, to be supporting me feels very special.”

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.