Two athletes in Dorset are set to gain much-needed support as part of a sports talent development programme.

Everyone Active’s Sporting Champions scheme has helped more than 5,000 athletes in the UK to achieve their sporting potential by providing free access to 230-plus leisure facilities - including Weymouth Swimming Pool & Fitness Centre and Blandford Leisure Centre.

The scheme, now in its eighth year, has invested more than £10,000 in athletes from Dorset and this year sailor and three-time Masters world champion Jon Emmett and boxer Lexi Phillips, just off the back of winning the Youth World Championship in February, have been accepted on to the scheme.

Alongside free access to the Everyone Active centres in Weymouth and Blandford they will will also receive valuable mentoring and guidance from an impressive panel of elite athletes, some of whom look set to compete at Paris 2024.

Dorset Echo: Boxer Lexi Phillips from BlandfordBoxer Lexi Phillips from Blandford (Image: Supplied)

Sixteen-year-old Lexi, from Blandford, said: “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Sporting Champions scheme and utilise Everyone Active’s facilities in Dorset and across the UK.

"It will allow me to enhance my fitness and maintain my strength and conditioning to prepare for my bouts.

"I’m also really looking forward to the mentoring days and learning from highly successful athletes.”

Dorset Echo: Newest Elite athlete, Harry Aikines-AryeeteyNewest Elite athlete, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Image: Everyone Active)

The scheme’s all-star line-up of decorated Olympians and Paralympians includes Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova, Lutalo Muhammad, Richard Kilty, Lauren Steadman and Maisie Summers-Newton, while new to the panel for 2024 is Team GB sprint star Harry Aikines-Aryeetey.

These Elite athletes will share their experience and expertise through group mentoring sessions, covering topics including mental wellbeing, nutrition, managing finances, social media and media training. 

Dorset Echo: Weymouth sailor Jon Emmett Weymouth sailor Jon Emmett (Image: NQ)

Jon, 46, from Weymouth added: “I am absolutely delighted to be part of the Sporting Champions scheme once again.

"The sense of community it provides is important to me, and being able to maintain my health and fitness is vital in supporting my training ahead of the sailing season.”

Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson will also continue to support the scheme through his role as an Ambassador, working alongside the elite athletes to make sport more accessible within local communities.

Dorset Echo: Sporting Champions ambassador, Colin JacksonSporting Champions ambassador, Colin Jackson (Image: Everyone Active)

He said: "I'm passionate about nurturing young talent and the Sporting Champions scheme goes above and beyond in this mission.

"With the Olympics and Paralympics taking place in Paris this summer, the programme takes on even greater significance in 2024. Seeing these future champions flourish fuels my excitement for what's to come."

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, no fewer than 30 Sporting Champions competed, taking home five gold, two silver and three bronze medals.

Hollie Jones, Everyone Active’s area contract manager, said: “Everyone Active’s Sporting Champions scheme has been very successful in providing exceptional support to emerging talent and we are delighted to be once again supporting athletes from Dorset on their journey to success.  

“As a leisure provider working in partnership with Dorset Council, we feel it is important to cater for all sections of the community.

"We hope to continue making a real difference to our athletes’ success and are excited to see what the relaunch of the scheme will bring this year.”