WELSH sporting legend, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, along with a whole host of inspirational Olympic and Paralympic medallists, including Sir Chris Hoy, Kelly Gallagher MBE and Nicola Adams gathered at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, to celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday and its transformative effect on Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s medal success since 1997, when funding was first awarded to elite athletes.

A total of 25 medallists (both current and past legends) attended the event, showcasing the 864 medals won by Olympic and Paralympians since National Lottery funding began. The activity was set up to say thank you to National Lottery players who support the athletes through grants provided by The National Lottery.

Since the National Lottery began 25 years ago, it has invested over £166 million to 17,300 community sports projects in Wales; from funding facilities, creating playing fields and increasing sporting opportunities for millions of people, whilst over £2.7 billion has been invested in Olympics and Paralympics across the UK, helping Welsh athletes, like Tanni Grey-Thompson, to thrive.

At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, before National Lottery funding began for elite sport, Great Britain ranked 36th in the Olympic medal table, with just one gold medal and a solitary female medallist. At Rio 2016, after almost two decades of funding from the National Lottery, both the Olympic and Paralympic teams finished second in the medal table. The impact of National Lottery funding has been truly significant, changing the face of elite sport in the country, and driving world-class performances across a wide variety of sports.

One of Great Britain’s most successful athletes, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who won 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 gold medals, over the course of a glittering 27-year career in top-flight athletics as a wheelchair racer and recent winner of The National Lottery’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award, says the impact of National Lottery funding is instrumental to Great Britain’s sporting achievements.

“National Lottery funding has transformed sport at all levels, including grass root clubs, facilities, coaches, the talent pathway and elite sport”, she says.

“The success we have as a sporting nation and Olympic and Paralympic support is down to every single person who has or will buy a National Lottery ticket. So, thank you so much The National Lottery and National Lottery players who have truly transformed the face of British sport and turned Great Britain into a powerhouse of medal success.”

To date over 5,000 elite athletes have benefitted from National Lottery funding, enabling them to have access to some of the best coaching, facilities and support staff in the world.  Recipients, past and present, include Dame Katherine Grainger, Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson, Christine Ohuruogu MBE, Nicola Adams OBE, and Max Whitlock MBE, as well as winter sports stars like Lizzy Yarnold OBE and Kelly Gallagher MBE.

The activity is part of a season of events to celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday. The events happening throughout October and into early December will reflect The National Lottery’s 25-year legacy, celebrating projects and people who have benefitted from National Lottery funding over the last quarter of a century.

Since the National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage, culture, film, charity and community.

The 25th birthday is a moment to celebrate the extraordinary impact The National Lottery has had on the UK. Since the National Lottery began, over 565,000 individual grants have been awarded across the UK. That’s the equivalent of 200 life-changing projects in every UK postcode district.

The 25th Birthday National Lottery activities are a great opportunity to say thank you to National Lottery players for contributing around £30 million to good causes every week.

Olympic and Paralympic athletes attending the activity:

  1. Sir Chris Hoy
  2. Dame Katherine Grainger
  3. Nicola Adams
  4. David Smith
  5. Jeanette Chippington
  6. Rhona Howie (nee Martin)
  7. Lizzy Yarnold
  8. Christine Ohuruogu
  9. Jenny Jones
  10. John Walker
  11. Sarah Stevenson
  12. Kate Howey
  13. Samantha Murray
  14. Kate Richardson-Walsh
  15. Helen Richardson-Walsh
  16. Claire Cashmore
  17. Dave Ellis
  18. Aaron McKibbin
  19. Helena Lucas
  20. Saskia Clark
  21. Max Whitlock
  22. Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson
  23. Kelly Gallagher & Charlotte Evans (guide)
  24. Lee Pearson
  25. Matt Skelhon

Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the 25th hashtag: #NationalLottery25

Image credits: Getty Images

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