Celebrating SportsAid Week: 23-29 September

As SportsAid Week begins, we talk to U23 GB rower Holly Dunford about how winning the One-to-Watch Award has boosted her career

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The U23 women's eight celebrate a silver medal (c) AllMarkOne

SportsAid Week takes place from 23-29 September and spotlights the support that the charity gives to many promising young British athletes each year. U23 GB rower Holly Dunford tells us how winning the prestigious SportsAid One-to-Watch Award has helped her career to flourish.

Holly Dunford, 19, won a silver medal with the GB women’s eight at the World Rowing U23 Championships back in July. Two years ago the Molesey BC rower was named SportsAid’s ‘one-to-watch’ after winning gold at the World Rowing Junior Championships.

“Winning the One-to-Watch Award was pretty special,” she says. “It made me realise that people were noticing all the hard work that I’d put in over the years. It was also pretty cool that people think that I’m the one to watch for the future and have potential to go all the way.

“It was surreal being named alongside Tom Daley and Morgan Lake especially seeing what they’ve gone on to do.”

Thanks to the SportsAid Award and the GLL Sport Foundation, Holly received an additional £1,250 to help with her sporting costs.

“The SportsAid donation helped me achieve my goals by allowing me to train without worrying about money. It helped me pay for kit and for petrol and allowed me to get to training, as well as to camps and regattas in other countries.

“This meant that I wasn’t worried about how I was going to have to pay for these and I was able to push my rowing further by being able to test myself against the best in the world. It helped me set higher goals once I got the taste for international racing.”

Being able to gain as much racing experience as possible has been key to Holly’s success at U23-level.

It was surreal being named alongside Tom Daley and Morgan Lake

She says: “The award gave me a big confidence boost knowing that my hard work was paying off, and that if I continued to push myself then I’d be able to achieve my goals and more in the future.”

Holly’s ultimate goal is to row at the Olympic Games.

“It will obviously take a lot of hard work and dedication but competing at the Olympics has always been a dream of mine.”

As for life after competing, Holly adds: “I haven’t really thought much post-rowing, but I could see myself being a rowing coach one day. I think I would find it difficult to keep away from the sport.”

SportsAid

SportsAid helps around 1,000 athletes across more than 60 sports each year, the majority aged 12 to 18, by providing them with an average award of £1,000. SportsAid Week is a fundraising drive designed to support the next generation of athletes striving to represent Team GB and ParalympicsGB at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Find out if a SportsAid Award can help you here.

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