Alessandro Schenini

Young long jump star Alessandro Schenini believes the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid could prove the key ingredient in helping him achieve his Olympic ambitions.

The 20-year-old Glaswegian is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Injuries, illness and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have provided several obstacles to his progress on the track in 2020.

But the third year mechanical engineering student – studying at the University of Strathclyde – has been hard at work during the lockdown to regain the form that will push him towards next year’s U23 European Championships and World University Games.

And as he bids to gather international experience and eventually secure selection for senior Commonwealth, European, world and Olympic competitions, Schenini insists the funding from the programme will play a crucial role in helping him achieve his dreams.

“The financial implications are huge because it means I can buy the best kit and equipment – including the best spikes – and afford to go off to European competitions and get my name out there on the circuit,” said Schenini, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“The ability to travel is going to be huge. Scotland has a lot of good long jumpers but I’m used to competing against the same people, so to go abroad, get out of my comfort zone and come up against new athletes will be really good for me.

“I think experiencing new things and being forced out of my bubble like that could prove the difference in my development, and help me get to where I want to in the sport.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

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.

Besides the monetary value of the programme’s support, Schenini is confident the backing of GVC and SportsAid acts as a significant psychological boost, as he looks to add his name to the illustrious list of alumni who have gone on to achieve big things on the world stage.

He said: “It’s a massive confidence boost to know that I’m on the same page as some of the best athletes around my age in Britain and that people have identified me as someone worth backing and supporting.

“It makes you train harder because you want to prove why you deserve their support. It’s also motivating to know that you could be talked about in the same breath as some of those amazing athletes that have been in this very position at a similar point in their careers.”

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.